The New Evangelization - America

























































































































































SYNOD OF BISHOPS

SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR AMERICA

ENCOUNTER WITH THE LIVING JESUS CHRIST:

THE WAY TO

CONVERSION, COMMUNION AND SOLIDARITY

IN AMERICA

INSTRUMENTUM LABORIS

VATICAN CITY

1997

© The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops and Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

This text can be reproduced by Bishops' Conferences, or at their authorization, provided that the content is not altered in any way and two copies of the same be sent to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, 00120 Vatican City State.

PREFACE

The initiative of the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II to convoke a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for America, put forth in the Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente, appears in a series of continental synodal assemblies called in light of the celebration of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. The first such assembly was held for the African continent in 1994, while the other special assemblies for Asia, Oceania and Europe are to be celebrated in the closing years of the Second Millennium. The celebration of the synodal assembly for America is to take place this year, 1997, after a period of preparation characterized by some significant moments: the consultation for arriving at a synod topic, followed by the Holy Father's approval of the formulation; the publication of the Lineamenta with its series of questions, sent to the interested parties (3 September 1996); the indictioof the Holy Father, i.e., the official letter containing the dates of convocation of the Special Assembly (10 February 1997), and finally, the publication of the present working document or Instrumentum laboris, which, taking into account the responses to the preparatory document, is the proposed agenda for synod discussion.

The interest generated in the particular Churches in all America at the announcement of the celebration of the Special Assembly for this hemisphere is reflected in the high percentage of response to the Lineamenta. Indeed, out of 24 episcopal conferences, 23 responded, that is, 96%, the highest percentage ever reached in the history of synodal assemblies. Moreover, many particular Churches took full advantage of the preparatory document to discuss in common the various suggested aspects of the synod topic, thereby adding the fruits of their common reflection to the preparation process of the Instrumentum laboris. Having had in hand the official submissions of the episcopal conferences and the other interested parties entitled "by right" to submit a response, the Pre-Synodal Council and the General Secretariat proceeded with the help of experts to draft the working document during the Fourth and Fifth Meetings of the Pre-Synodal Council, held in Rome, 6-8 May 1997 and 2-4 July 1997, respectively. At the first of these meetings, the members studied the initial draft, based on the responses and divided according to the main topics suggested in the questions of the Lineamenta. The second of these meetings was dedicated to examining the second draft, which integrated into a single text various parts of the first draft and the observations made by the members of the Pre-Synodal Council at the previous meeting.

In the work of arriving at a summary, three aspects were given priority, all of which are reflected in the definitive text: points in common, differences and the various shades of meaning which provide a more objective vision of reality. In regard to this final aspect, for example, strong differences were perceived at various times between Latin America and the United States of America and Canada. However, it is necessary to clarify immediately that, underlying these differences which oftentimes result from labels from the past, elements in common exist which are stronger and more unifying. By comparison, when certain general problems are presented as affecting the entire American hemisphere, certain shades of meaning in given situations provide a vision of reality which is less simple and more objective. Moreover, it is worthwhile to state that the document contains not only the points in common from the responses along with their proper shades of meaning, but also those subjects which, according to the suggestions in the responses, should be further examined and developed. In these cases, even though they may not be treated in an exhaustive manner, they are mentioned so as to become part of the agenda for treatment in synodal discussion.

The Instrumentum laboris, presented in the four official languages of the Special Assembly (Spanish, English, Portuguese and French), maintains, for the most part, the structure of the preparatory document which embodied the elements of the synod topic's formulation: encounter with the living Jesus Christ--the way to conversion--the way to communion--the way to solidarity. Following this plan, the working document is composed of an Introduction, Four Parts and a brief Conclusion.

In the Introduction, attention is focused on the synod topic and on the three fundamental characteristics which define the religious identity of America: common Christian roots, the vitality of a young Church and cultural pluralism. Part I, entitled Encounter with the Living Jesus Christ, treats the great principles to be followed to ensure the announcement of the complete truth about the mystery of Christ, and discusses the subject of the relation between the Gospel and culture (the dominant characteristics of the contemporary culture, the indigenous and Afro-American cultures, the cultures of immigrant people, popular piety, education and the means of social communications). Part II , on conversion, develops the concept of conversion to Jesus Christ, presenting from the point of view of all America the positive and negative elements of both the ecclesial reality and the world. Part III, focusing on communion, looks to communion in Jesus Christ as the basis and goal of evangelization. It also introduces within the context of Vatican Council II's ecclesiology of communion the difficulties in living communion in the Church, and evaluates the situation of the Catholic Church in the religious context of the continent. Part IV treats the subject of solidarity, calling attention to the awareness in conscience of solidarity in all America and the use which the Church makes of her social doctrine to respond to the great challenges of contemporary society on the continent (poverty, international debt, the culture of death, etc.). The document ends with a brief Conclusion which takes up anew the synod topic in the context of the new evangelization on the threshold of the Third Millennium, invoking the patronage of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, in the task of announcing the living Jesus Christ, the way to conversion, communion and solidarity in the hemisphere.

Jan P. Cardinal Schotte, C.I.C.M.

General Secretary

INTRODUCTION

The Topic of the Special Assembly

1. While all the People of God prepare to celebrate with joy the beginning of the Third Millennium marking 2000 years since the Birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Pastors of the Church in the American hemisphere, responding to the call of the Holy Father, are to gather for the first time in the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for America to treat the topic: Encounter with the Living Jesus Christ: the Way to Conversion, Communion and Solidarity in America.(1) This topic provides the framework for coming to a knowledge of the present state of the Church in all America and how the Church can prepare herself better to face the new challenges of evangelization in the future, while bearing in mind the aims proposed by the Supreme Pontiff for this synodal assembly.(2)

-to foster a new evangelization on the whole continent as an expression of episcopal communion;

-to increase solidarity among the various particular Churches in different fields of pastoral activity; and

-to shed light on the problems of justice and international economic relations among the nations of America, considering the enormous imbalances between the North, Central and South of the American continent.

2. The structural parts of the topic for the Special Assembly are inter- related. The three elements--conversion, communion and solidarity--are directed to, and intrinsically connected with, the main topic of the encounter with Jesus Christ from which they flow and on which they are based. As the Word of God clearly demonstrates, these three basic concepts result from the personal encounter with the Son of God made man. This Jesus invites all men and women of all time to a change of life (metanoia - cf. Mk 1:15), which is the first step for entering into communion (koinonia) with the Lord himself and his disciples (cf. Acts 2:42). The communion of those who believe in Christ is directed, following in the footsteps of the Servant of God, towards living with all in a spirit of solidarity and service (diaconia), above all with the least of humankind (cf. Mt 25:40).

Since the encounter with Jesus Christ is the origin of conversion, communion and solidarity, each one of the three respective parts of the present text will place particular emphasis on the encounter with Jesus and the effect of this encounter on the life of individuals and the community of believers. Furthermore, the three sections of this document are also inter- related:

  • only through conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is there a possibility for true communion and genuine solidarity;
  • communion with Christ and his Church is at the same time the basis for an ongoing personal conversion and the foundation for achieving solidarity;
  • solidarity, insofar as it is an expression of the essential values of the Kingdom of God, manifests the goal and point of convergence to which both conversion and communion are directed.
The Religious Identity of America

3. At first glance, it might seem artificial to use the simple term "America" to designate the extensive territories of the hemisphere (North, Central and South America and the Caribbean) as a single geographic entity, without at the same time acknowledging the great variety of historical, ethnic, cultural and economic differences which characterize the various nations making up that immense land mass. However, from a religious point of view, it may be said that the American hemisphere has a common Christian identity, based on the proclamation of the Gospel in the New World after the discovery of the continent more than 500 years ago. At that time, the planting of a cross in American soil by Christopher Columbus upon his landing on the Island of El Salvador,(3) was a prophetic sign foreshadowing how subsequent centuries, with their accomplishments and failings, would be intrinsically united to the mystery of redemption in the Lord Jesus Christ.(4)

From the time of that discovery, this new land witnessed the arrival of colonists and immigrants coming from various European nations and a considerable number of Africans who were victims of the slave trade. This influx was common historical fact for all parts of the continent, even though different characteristics accompanied this series of events in each region. This movement of people, coming in contact with indigenous American peoples, produced in many cases new cultural expressions, often reflecting the characteristic marks of each civilization. In the last century, waves of immigrants came from Europe, and in more recent times from Asia and Oceania, moved by the ideal and hope of a better life. In many areas of the continent the greater part of the immigrants were Catholic, whereas in other areas Catholics were in the minority, with the majority consisting of members of other Christian confessions coming from the Protestant reform of the 16th Century.

4. As a result of these factors, the various nations of America today are a rich multi-ethnic and multi-cultural family, in which the following fundamental elements--among others--may be distinguished:

  • common Christian roots, with which the majority of people with their various traditions and cultural expressions can identify despite human and temporal diversity. This common heritage is understood with different shades of meaning. In Latin America, the common Christian root, in addition to being Christian, is Catholic, while the rest of the continent is united in a predominantly Christian identity, without excluding, in minor proportions, the feature of Catholicism;
  • a history rich in ancient civilizations, yet marked by the proclamation of the Gospel for only 500 years, so that, from this point of view, it may be said that the common Christian roots have a relatively young history. Consequently, the Church in this hemisphere is a young Church, marked by a great vitality and a force of renewal, which is a source of hope and joy;
  • these common Christian roots are incarnated in a plurality of cultural expressions which include a wide range of realities, those having social, political and economic aspects as well as highly ethnic ones. This heterogeneity is a richness providing a fertile field for undertaking the work of communion and solidarity, a work which can profit from the Church's new evangelization.

Moreover, these aspects of the American identity imply a great responsibility for the Church, calling on her to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth (cf. Matt 5:14) as she brings her message and witness to the work of building a more just society, thus preparing for the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven.

5. The Instrumentum laboris, in summarizing the responses to the questions proposed in the Lineamenta, presents the first-fruits of the process of preparation and in this way serves as the basis for synodal discussion in the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for America. Therefore, the present document presents for consideration and reflection the principal common points and contrasting elements in the responses, the aspects which need to be examined further and the observations related to the synodal topic, in view of the dialogue to be undertaken by the Synod Fathers, called together by the Holy Father.

Part I

ENCOUNTER WITH THE LIVING JESUS CHRIST

Chapter I: The Mystery of Christ

The Mystery of Christ and the Human Person

6. Following in the footsteps of the Apostle Saint Paul, for whom all of life consisted in announcing Christ who died and rose again, evangelizare Jesum Christum (cf. Gal 1:16), the Church in all America intends once more to focus her evangelizing mission on proclaiming and presenting the Person of the living Jesus Christ. The responses to the Lineamenta, by confirming the timely value of the synod topic, are in agreement on the contemporary character of announcing Jesus Christ in terms of a personal encounter in order to respond to the sensitivities of the person of today, in relation to human dignity and the value of the individual as a personal subject.

It is the living, risen Christ, present today in his Church, who wishes to encounter all those living on this continent in order to offer them his word of love and hope at this crucial juncture in history, which marks the passing from the Second to the Third Millennium. Together with the Holy Father, the bishops in all America affirm that the fundamental mission of the Church is to evangelize, that is, to guide the consciences and hearts of all men and women of good will towards an encounter with Christ, helping them to experience the full depths of the mystery of redemption, achieved once and for all in the Son of God.(5) The announcement of the mystery of Jesus Christ is thus aimed at achieving a personal encounter with Him. The Church in all America wishes to serve God and mankind fulfilling her most important goal, which the Holy Father has defined at the beginning of his pontificate in the following words: "that each person may be able to find Christ in order that Christ may walk with each person the path of life, with the power of the truth about man and the world which is contained in the mystery of the incarnation and redemption and with the power of the love that is radiated by that truth."(6) Consequently, today we should consider how to announce Jesus Christ in the present geographic, historical and cultural context of the reality of the American hemisphere so as effectively to bring about the encounter between the God incarnated in Jesus Christ and each person, whose interior life is marked by an ever-present longing for God.(7)

The Announcement of the Complete Truth Concerning the Mystery of Jesus Christ

7. In this dialogue of salvation with humanity, the Church offers the truth entrusted to her by Jesus Christ Himself with "universal openness."(8) In order to carry out this mission, in accordance with the indications of Pope John Paul II in his Encyclical Letter Redemptor hominis, she turns her gaze "towards Christ, our Redeemer, towards Christ, the Redeemer of man, ... because there is salvation in no one else but him, the Son of God,"(9) as contained in the words of the Apostle Saint Peter, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (Jn 6:68). In him is realized the mystery of redemption, which has a twofold dimension: divine and human.(10)

From this point of view, the responses to the Lineamenta show a special interest in offering to the faithful the complete truth concerning the mystery of Christ--his person, work and message. He is the Word of God made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary and born in Bethlehem; who lived in the village of Nazareth and was obedient to his parents; who increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man (cf. Lk 2:51-52). He is the Word of God made flesh, who announced through words and signs the Good News of the Kingdom of God and proclaimed the grace of salvation (cf. Lk 4:17-21). He is the long-hoped-for Messiah, who healed the sick, forgave sinners and sat down at their table (cf. Lk 7:36-50); and who personally experienced the value of friendship with Martha, Mary and Lazarus (cf. Lk 10:38-42). He is the Suffering Servant, who endured the agony of Gethsemani, but freely accepted to drink the cup which the Father offered him (cf. Lk 22:39-44). He is the Son of God, who died on the cross and on the third day rose again from the dead for our salvation. He is the Bridegroom, who gave his life for his Bride, the Church (cf. Eph 5:25); and ever since that first Pentecost has accompanied her at all times in her trials and difficulties, sanctifying her through the Holy Spirit. He is the Risen Christ, who is seated at the right hand of God the Father, Victor over sin and death, the High Priest, who intercedes on behalf of all mankind (cf. Heb 4:14-5:10). He is the Lord of time and eternity, who will come at the end of history to judge the living and the dead. In a word, he is the image of the invisible God (cf. Col 1:15) and, at the same time, he is the perfect man who "restores (to the sons of Adam) the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onwards."(11)

8. The presentation of the mystery of Christ in a complete manner supposes not only an adequate appraisal of the fact of the incarnation through which the Son of God took on human nature--making Himself truly like us in everything, except sin (cf. Heb 4:15)--but also the correct appreciation of his divine nature according to which the Word of God was with God and was God (cf. Jn 1:1). He exists from all eternity as the true God, and in him all the fullness of divinity took bodily form (cf. Col 1:17). Only a balanced understanding of the divine and human natures of Christ and their perfect unity in the second Person of the Blessed Trinity can lead to a proper approach to the mystery of Jesus Christ present today in history as Head of the Church, "which is his body" (Eph 1:22-23). Only in the Word made flesh can the mystery of man be enlightened, since the Son of God made man, who is in the image of the invisible God, is likewise the perfect man, the definitive revelation of God the Father to humanity and the way of encountering the meaning of his existence.(12)

Many answers to the Lineamenta point to the need fully to present the mystery of Jesus Christ in order to provide a clear answer to the confusion at times befalling some members of the People of God in reducing Christ to one or another aspect of his life, his Person or his work of salvation. Towards this end, the new evangelization, directed towards all men and women in the American hemisphere, supposes a renewed announcement which should "always contain--as the foundation, center and at the same time summit of its dynamism--a clear proclamation that, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, who died and rose from the dead, salvation is offered to all men, as a gift of God's grace and mercy."(13) When the Holy Father, John Paul II invited the bishops in Latin America in Port-au-Prince to undertake a new evangelization of America, he added: "new in its ardor, new in its methods and new in its expressions,"(14) that is to say, he alluded to the newness in attitude among evangelizers, since the Gospel and its contents, which is Jesus Christ, cannot grow old, but is an ever new and ready source of life.

Finally, certain responses coming from Latin America indicate that, probably due to the influence of the socio-cultural context, the aspect of the suffering Christ of the passion is prevalent sometimes eclipsing the image of the risen Christ. In order to announce the mystery of Jesus Christ in a complete way, it is suggested that a more incisive announcement of the resurrection be fostered, which, without falling into earthly triumphalism, could be a true message of hope to men and women laid low by sorrow and sadness.

The Mystery of Jesus Christ Proclaimed to People and Culture

9. To evangelize people means to evangelize also their culture, their ethics and values, their ideals of justice and truth. Thus, one of the most important objectives of the new evangelization consists precisely of transforming culture from within, enriching it with the Christian values which come from the faith and ensuring that Christ's message penetrates the consciences of persons and finds expression in the "ethos" of peoples.(15) Following the orientations of Pope Paul VI in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, the answers to the Lineamenta questions reaffirm the separation of the Gospel from culture as "the drama of our time."(16)

Therefore, it is important to evangelize persons individually and also to evangelize their cultures, since the goal is "a question not only of preaching the Gospel in ever wider geographic areas or to ever greater numbers of people, but also of affecting and as it were upsetting, through the power of the Gospel, mankind's criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life, which are in contrast with the Word of God and the plan of salvation,"(17) that is, "what matters is to evangelize man's culture and cultures...in the wide and rich sense which these terms have in Gaudium et spes."(18) Thus, through inculturation "the Church makes the Gospel incarnate in different cultures and at the same time introduces peoples, together with their cultures, into her own community. She transmits to them her own values, at the same time taking the good elements that already exist in them and renewing them from within."(19)

10. The concept of culture, implicit in the above-mentioned conciliar constitution, was further developed in the document of the III General Conference of the Latin American Bishops in the following words: "culture is the particular way in which, in a people, persons cultivate their relationship with nature, with one another and with God so as to arrive at a truly and fully human level (Gaudium et spes, 53)."(20) Therefore, culture is "that common style of life" which characterizes a people and comprises the various aspects of the life of that people: "the sum-total of values which inspire it and of the weaknesses which debilitate it ..., the ways in which those values and shortcomings are expressed and appear, that is to say, customs, language, institutions and structures of social life. In a word, then, culture is the life of a people."(21)

The synthesis between culture and faith is not merely a requirement of culture but also of faith, since a faith which does not become culture is a faith not fully lived.(22)

11. In response to the questions of the Lineamenta on the subject of culture, certain aspects of contemporary culture are described to which the Church wishes to announce the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The modern culture has recorded achievements and human progress in both the scientific and technical fields, and also those of freedom and human rights. However, advances in these areas have also been accompanied by many negative aspects such as: pollution and the depletion of natural resources, the exceeding of ethical limits in science and bio-genetics, the high social cost of material development, philosophic scepticism and moral relativism.(23) In this complex and challenging reality, the following questions can be raised: How is the message of the Church accessible to the new cultures, to contemporary mentalities and sensitivities? How can Christ's Church come to terms with the modern spirit, so proud of its achievements and, at the same time, so worried about the future of the human family? Who is Jesus Christ for the men and women of today? The answers to these questions should bear in mind the two fundamental principles of inculturation, namely, the compatibility of cultures with the Gospel and communion with the universal Church.(24)

Chapter II: The Announcement of Jesus Christ in the Cultural Context of America

The Gospel and Culture

12. In summarizing responses related to the evangelization of culture, certain general tendencies stand out in the present-day societies of the American hemisphere. These same tendencies can also be detected in cultural trends at the international level. Among them are:

  • a pluralism presenting itself in all America under many forms: an affirmation of identity based on various ethnic, linguistic and national groups; a diversity of mentalities as a manifestation of freedom of expression; the co-existence in the same area of many different cultural and religious traditions; an openness through the world of communications to a wealth of information for enlarging the horizons of human knowledge, etc.;
  • a secularism proposing a vision of life which lacks transcendent values, while at the same time indirectly stimulating the person of today to search for the ultimate purpose of life;
  • a subjectivism and moral relativism, producing in the person of today a great crisis and confusion of conscience, which consequently leads to a devaluation of the objective moral order and an over- emphasis on personal subjectivity. These characteristics lead to the loss of a sense of sin;
  • a globalization of culture having positive aspects which offer the possibility of enrichment through inter-communication, while at the same time leading cultures towards an homogenization of contents and values, with the consequent loss of individual identity. This effect may be especially worrying when the Christian, and particularly Catholic, profile of local cultures is at stake;
  • an awareness of the importance of certain values, some of which are connected with the dignity of the human person, such as freedom, life and justice; others relate to the innate desire of each human being towards spiritual and transcendent realities; and
  • an urbanization raising new challenges for evangelization, not only because it creates new problems coming from urban culture (poverty and indigence of marginalized groups, uprooting, anonymity, loneliness, immorality and violence, etc.) but also because the present urban structure requires new pastoral methods, including the use of modern means and techniques of communication.

It could be said that the above characteristics are common to the whole continent, even if they are present in various ways in different regional and local settings. For example, the phenomenon of urbanization raises the problem of social marginalization, both in the poor sectors of the "favelas" in Latin America as well as the disadvantaged areas of the big cities of North America. Similarly, the awareness of certain values--such as justice, freedom and life--is manifested in various cultural expressions according to the degree of economic development and the political situation in the respective society, though in fact the basic ideals are the same.

The Gospel and Indigenous and Afro-American Cultures

13. In the responses to the Lineamenta on the subject of evangelization, the interest in the relationship between the Gospel and culture is extended to include indigenous and Afro-American cultures, which, to varying degrees, are a part of all the countries in the American hemisphere. These cultures are a legacy of the civilizations which existed on the continent before the arrival of the first evangelizers, or are the fruit of an immigration immediately following their arrival. In either case, it could be said that, from the outset, both these cultures welcomed the message of the Good News with a simplicity of heart. Nevertheless, the task of evangelization of these cultures was not completed with the first announcement of the kerygma. Today still, as clearly seen from the replies to the questions of the preparatory document for the synodal assembly, a greater presence of the Church is required in the cultures of these peoples so as to transform inwardly their authentic cultural values, through integrating the various cultures into Christianity and enlightening them by the faith.

14. Among the indigenous and Afro-American groups, there is a growing awareness of the right to conserve one's cultural identity. The Church in all America, in communion with the Magisterium of the Holy Father, is conscious of the importance of such rights and makes every effort to bring to these people the Gospel message, while at the same time concerning herself with promoting their legitimate claims.(25) According to the answers to the Lineamenta questions, among the values of these cultures compatible with the Christian faith are the following: a great love for one's own land, a respect for ancestors and community traditions, the religious sense of life and death as expressed in ritual celebrations enlivened with dancing, music and singing as well as the belief in a life beyond this one. At the same time, these answers underscore aspects which need to be purified, since all cultures are a product of mankind and thus marked by sin. Some of the habits and attitudes needing purification are the following: a high rate of alcoholism (frequently connected with the holding of festivities), fetishism, superstition, casting of spells, religious syncretism, fatalism, black magic, witch doctoring and other mythical ideas which take the form of practices incompatible with the Christian faith.

The Gospel and the Cultures of Immigrant Peoples

15. No less important than the evangelization of indigenous and Afro- American cultures is the evangelization of the cultures of immigrants, which constitutes a reality in almost all societies in the American hemisphere since the end of the last century. The answers to the Lineamenta indicate the presence of two main immigration currents: one coming basically from Europe and to a lesser extent from Asia; and the other, a movement within the American hemisphere itself. The first immigrant movement occurred with greater intensity in some countries more than others, but generally speaking it may be said that the immigrants brought with them authentic human values, such as: the sense of family and work, a love of their country of origin, a solidarity with those poorer than themselves, the value of a promise given, the sense of justice, and also certain religious values, whether Catholic (mainly from the Latin Church, though also from Oriental Churches) or from other Christian religions (various Protestant communities and also Orthodox Churches) and including non-Christian religions (Judaism and to a lesser extent Islam). While in certain countries like Canada and above all the United States the immigration flow consisted of many currents mainly coming from various European and to a lesser extent Asian countries and cultures, in the rest of the continent this same phenomenon reflects the presence of predominantly Spanish and Italian immigrants.

16. The second current includes massive immigration from the South, Central and Caribbean parts of the continent to the North. Many answers to the Lineamenta agree that more collaboration is needed between the a quo and ad quem Churches in order to provide adequate pastoral care of immigrants in which, for example, immigrant persons might receive assistance from priests coming from their own region. In the same way, suggestions are made to promote the forms of popular piety which the immigrants bring with them, such as: family festivities, religious holidays and patron saints' days, traditional celebrations associated with Christmas and Holy Week, as well as processions and devotions associated with special titles for Christ, the Blessed Virgin and the saints. In the United States of America the significantly increasing presence of Latin American immigrants represents in many instances an enriching element for this country's culture. Many immigrants, the majority of which were Catholic, brought with them authentic values: the sense of family, popular piety, folklore and local traditions. The bishops of this country recognize the value of this style of life and the customs which manifest the Catholic faith, while at the same time point out the need continually to evangelize these popular expressions of Latin American piety to purify them and integrate them appropriately in accomplishing a major enrichment of the local Christian culture.

The Gospel and Popular Piety

17. Another aspect emerging from the answers to the Lineamenta on the subject of the evangelization of culture is popular piety. In the people of Latin America and Latin American groups living in North America, this expression of culture is basically the expression of the Catholic faith, while in the rest of the continent it can be said that such religious sentiment is generally Christian. In any case, it is noted that recently the simple, but no less profound, religious character of these people has received special attention in the pastoral initiatives of local Churches throughout all America.

Some signs which indicate the importance of popular religious culture are: the increasing participation of people in pilgrimages to shrines (especially Marian shrines), the tradition in families of baptizing children, the giving of alms for the souls in Purgatory and celebrating Masses for the deceased, patronal feasts with their characteristic processions and the celebration of Holy Mass (generally attended by large numbers of people), devotion to the saints, not only those of the universal Church but also those of the American continent, etc..(26) These and many other expressions of popular piety offer excellent opportunities for the faithful to encounter the living Jesus Christ. In fact, the ecclesial community, in coming together for the celebration of the Word and Sacrament in memory of the saints, remembers in a particular way those who faithfully imitated in their lives the Savior of the world, and that same community enters into communion with those who are part of the heavenly Church. It is for this reason that popular piety--purified and duly catechized--may come to be a decisive element in the new evangelization. This is a point on which most of the answers to the Lineamenta agree.

18. As confirmed by the answers to the preparatory document, within popular piety--but not limited exclusively to this category--a privileged place is occupied by devotion to the Virgin Mary, a clear sign of the Catholic identity of the People of God. The Catholics of America are a Marian people. This is borne out by the many titles by which she is invoked by believers, as also by the innumerable Marian shrines throughout the American hemisphere. Among her many titles, the most noteworthy is that of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which owes its origins to the appearance of the Virgin to Juan Diego on American soil, on the hill of Tepeyac (Mexico), in 1531. This Marian event has always been considered as a sign of the protection of the Mother of God for the men and women of the American continent, based on the words addressed by the Virgin to Juan Diego and conserved in the traditions of the faithful: "Am I not here, who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Why do you fear, if you are in my mantle? If you are in my arms?" Some responses to theLineamenta underline that in recent times devotion to Mary under this title has increased, and that, without diminishing devotion to the Virgin according to local titles, the devotion draws together all the Catholic peoples of America in the profession of the same faith in the Mother of the Redeemer. This is occurring not only in Latin American countries but also in the United States of America. In this case, the growing popularity of this devotion is explained, among other facts, by the presence of Latin American Catholics in this country. Pope John Paul II proposes Marian devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe as a great example of perfectly inculturated evangelization, saying: "The mestizo countenance of the Virgin of Tepeyac sums up the great principle of inculturation: the intimate transformation of authentic cultural values through their integration into Christianity and the rooting of Christianity in the diverse cultures."(27) For this reason, the Holy Father decided to honor the Mother of God on American soil by calling her: "the Star of both the first evangelization and the new one."(28)

19. Among the many manifestations of popular devotion to Our Lady are the following: recitation of the rosary; pilgrimages and visits to shrines, frequently accompanied by the opportunity to receive the sacraments; Marian titles and invocations from which shrines, chapels and cities take their names; religious art providing devotional images and bearing witness to the people's Marian faith; patronal feast days; a month devoted to Mary; promises and vows made to her as an expression of the Marian dimension of the faith of believers, etc.. In local Churches in all America, efforts are being made increasingly to foster Marian devotion and have it lead towards a personal encounter with Christ, integrating affective and doctrinal aspects in it and bringing the faithful to partake of the sacraments and grow in faith, hope and charity. Various responses point out that Marian devotion is authentic when it leads people to a more coherent living of the Christian life, where the faith is expressed in charity towards the more needy members of society and in a greater commitment to evangelization on a personal level and in the Church's structures.

The Gospel and Education

20. With regard to the subject of the evangelization of culture, various responses to the Lineamenta indicate that the Church in all America is pastorally present in education at all levels. The underlying reasons given for the Church's concern in this area are basically two: 1) interest in the person, whose education stimulates specifically human capacities, thus preparing the ground for reception of the Good News; and 2) interest in society, since education is the source of attitudes towards behavior and values, the defining features of culture which need to be imbued with evangelical values.

In order to evangelize culture in the field of education, thinking and research, the Church in all America can rely on a considerable network of schools, colleges, universities and faculties to develop an efficient work of evangelization and an important human promotion. To take advantage of this potential the answers to the Lineamenta suggest that the following points be borne in mind:

  • the maintaining of a clear and precise Catholic identity in Church centers of education at all levels, above all regarding the basic Christian orientation of programs and pastoral initiatives. A Church educational center has to be first and foremost a school which leads people to increase their faith;
  • the planning of educational programs aimed not merely at providing efficient technical instruction but also, and above all, at offering a vision and a culture inspired by Gospel values which can be assimilated in terms of attitudes of human and Christian behavior. In this regard, it is important to offer through educational programs a true integration of knowledge in a Christian view of the world;
  • the coordinating of the pastoral programs of education at national, diocesan and local levels through ecclesial structures, above all, for the drawing up of programs and texts on religious formation. In this regard, an invaluable instrument is the new Catechism of the Catholic Church;
  • the formation of professors and teachers who are professionally qualified as well as committed Christians is another indispensable aspect of the evangelization of culture in the field of education;
  • the intensifying of educational works by the Church in disadvantaged areas through free schools in the city and rural settings as well as through vocational schools is an excellent witness the Church can offer in the promotion of the person and the cultural development of a society; and
  • the presence of the Church in universities and other educational environments, whether State or private, non-denominational ones, by means of chaplains and Catholic teachers is also a privileged field for the evangelization of culture.

Since the task of evangelization in the educational field is directed above all to young people, attention should moreover be focused on the categories of youth culture, not only with its characteristic areas of expression (music, sport, leisure activities, friendship, group encounters, etc.) but also with its specific challenges (drugs, violence, sexuality, marginalization, the generational gap, loneliness, etc.).

The Gospel and the Means of Social Communication

21. All the answers to the Lineamenta are in broad agreement that one of the "modern areopagi"(29) requiring urgent evangelization is that of the means of social communication. The fundamental reason for this urgent need is the influence exercised by the media over almost every individual. Reference is quite rightly made to a "mass culture" which affects persons, changing their way of thinking, their values and style of behavior. In contrast, many answers confirm the scarce presence--in certain cases, the complete absence--of the Church in the field of the means of social communication. A common point of agreement is the need to deal with this question at two levels:

1) the use of the media to transmit the Gospel message and the Magisterium of the Church. At this level, even where the Church in all America is utilizing various means in the media to transmit her news (periodicals, various publications, radio and television broadcasts, computer networks, etc.), there is evidence that the use made of these media is often inadequate for lack of updated equipment, economic resources and sufficiently skilled personnel.

2) the integration of the Gospel message in this "new culture" created by modern communications. The evangelization of present-day culture indeed depends to a large extent on the influence of the media.(30) At this level, there is a need to bring the values of the Gospel to bear on the ethical principles underlying the handling of information, the content of communication transmitted to the masses and the goals of working in the world of communications. Many times the responses indicate that frequently the goal of the agents of communications is economic gain and not the promotion of the person.

PART II

ENCOUNTER WITH THE LIVING JESUS CHRIST:

THE WAY TO CONVERSION

Chapter I: Conversion to Jesus Christ

The Encounter with the Living Jesus Christ Brings About Conversion

22. It is a fact that in the history of salvation, after original sin, whenever God comes to meet a person in dialogue, he does so for the purpose of eliciting a conversion of heart. Already in the Old Testament, the preaching of penance is directed towards an inner conversion of heart, namely, rejecting sin and following God (cf. Jonah 3:4-10; Amos 5:15; Baruch 1:3-5; Ps 35:13; 51:3-6). Thereafter, drawing on the Old Testament message, Jesus Christ began his ministry announcing the Good News of the Kingdom and calling upon people to repent: "the time has come and the Kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent and believe the Good News" (Mk 1:15). These words of Christ are, in a certain sense, the compendium of the whole Christian life: "It is impossible to enter into the Kingdom except throughmetanoia or the inner total transformation and renewal of man, in his whole way of feeling, judging and deciding."(31) The early Church followed faithfully in the steps of her founder, announcing his message of salvation and calling upon all people to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ so that their sins might be forgiven (cf . Acts 2:37-38). The Apostle Saint Paul also proclaims the cosmic dimension of reconciliation, saying that the Father wanted "all things to be reconciled through him and for him, everything in heaven and on earth, when he made peace by his death on the cross" (Col 1:20).

23. Conversion is a complex concept implying a profound change of heart under the influence of the Word of God. Such an inner transformation is expressed in the life and deeds of the Christian.(32) Sin is a reality which affects first of all the individual person. Nevertheless, since the person lives in a constant relationship with other human beings with whom he builds society by means of institutions and structures, it is possible to pinpoint certain social situations which are corrupted by the sin of free and responsible persons. It is in this sense that one can speak of a social dimension of sin, affecting the lives of innumerable men and women, and more concretely of "structures of sin," as Pope John Paul II calls these relationships of injustice characterizing the social organization of many countries in all America.(33)

In this way, the present document, which contains the answers to theLineamenta questions, deals not only with the need for personal conversion-- whose path to total fulfillment is in the sacrament of penance or reconciliation--but also with the urgency of converting certain aspects of life within the Church and human society. These are complex situations which, in as much as they are the outcome of human actions not always in accordance with the divine will, need to be enlightened by the Gospel, if they are to be of service to the individual and his personal salvation. These are the areas in which Jesus Christ must enter so as to bring about people's conversion and thus the renewal of their social relations.

The Church Preaches Conversion

24. The Church as the community of believers in pilgrimage towards the heavenly homeland is in need of purification. As she preaches conversion to the Gospel, she herself feels called to ongoing conversion to Jesus Christ so as to carry out her evangelizing mission. It is not the Church as a divine institution, assisted by the Holy Spirit and infallible in the transmission of revelation, which needs to be converted, but the Church as a community of men and women, who are sinners, which needs to be constantly converted in her members and in her pastoral structures in order to bear authentic witness to the nearness of the Kingdom of Heaven.(34) The Pastors of the Church in all America, in response to the call by the Holy Father in preparation for the celebration of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, appeal to all members of the People of God in the American hemisphere to make a sincere examination of conscience as the first step towards authentic conversion: "At the threshold of the new Millennium, Christians need to place themselves humbly before the Lord and examine themselves on the responsibility which they have for the evils of our day."(35)

Chapter II: Conversion in the Church and in Society

Concrete Signs of a Religious Re-awakening in the Church

25. Many positive signs of joy and hope hearten and console the People of God in all America as it proceeds in the midst of the sorrows and anxieties of our time.(36) For this reason, when dealing with the subject of conversion, the Lineamenta questions propose first of all to take note of the signs of religious vitality marking the present situation of the Church in the American hemisphere. These aspects are presented in the answers to the preparatory document as the most valuable fruits of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and the documents of the episcopal magisterium which is making ongoing efforts to apply the Council's teaching.

Among the features which reflect this situation, the following deserve to be mentioned:

  • a strong feeling of communion and participation in the life of the Church at various levels: episcopal collegiality between bishops within an episcopal conference, the communion of the bishop with priests, religious and laity in the pastoral life of dioceses, and pastoral planning in parishes with the active participation of religious and laity, etc.;
  • a considerable increase, in some areas, in priestly vocations and vocations to the consecrated life has been recorded in the last few years. Although in many cases these vocations are still insufficient to meet the needs of certain particular Churches, some of these Churches demonstrate a spirit of missionary solidarity by sharing vocations with more needy dioceses.
  • a major awareness of the importance of the formation of the clergy, both in the seminary and in the active ministry. In various responses, mention is made of the positive contribution given by the Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores dabo vobis, to opening new approaches in the renewal of priestly spirituality;
  • a strong witness in the ministerial life of many priests committed to the new evangelization and an enthusiastic exercise of their priesthood. This too is often accompanied by a significant interest in community experiences of prayer, apostolic work, living in common, spiritual retreats, etc.;
  • a growing active participation in the liturgy by the faithful,(37) making it not only a moment of personal communion with God but the center of the pastoral life of the ecclesial community. The liturgical renewal of the Second Vatican Council has been welcomed by most of the People of God whose members have rediscovered the value of the liturgy as an encounter with God and others, and as a celebration of Church communion;
  • a greater awareness on the part of the laity(38) of the gift of Baptism, which leads them to a deeper involvement in the Church and strengthens their apostolic and missionary commitment. Similarly, the laity are generally becoming increasingly aware of the need to work wholeheartedly for the transformation of society according to Gospel values through participating in the following areas: the defense of life and the family; the promotion of solidarity, justice, human rights and ecology; the cause of peace and reconciliation in areas of violence; aid based on solidarity with the most needy through initiatives providing assistance; etc.
Urgent Aspects of Conversion Within the Church

26. Precisely because the Church is "an inter-locked reality which is comprised of a divine and human element,"(39) she also has shadows which becloud her image as a sign and instrument of salvation and which have their source in the sinful condition of her members. Therefore, the Church in all America, being at one and the same time holy and in need of purification, wishes to pursue the path of penance and renewal.(40) This is indicated in the aspects dealing with conversion within the Church herself, mentioned in the answers to the Lineamenta, namely:

  • There will always be a need for a more vibrant and clearwitness of sanctity on the part of evangelizers--bishops, priests, those in the consecrated life and lay persons, both men or women--each according to his particular gifts and role. The sanctity of each one of the members of the People of God, in the occupations and circumstances of his life, is the most effective means to carry out the task of the new evangelization.
  • On a number of occasions a lack of communion is detected, above all concerning the coordination and collaboration of charisms within the Church. In particular, attention is drawn to a lack of harmony between the charism of the consecrated life and that of the bishop's authority, between the charism of the diocesan clergy and that of those in service to the Church. Moreover, the diocesan clergy ought be more open to welcome those in the consecrated life as well as in lay movements, who may contribute through their respective gifts and charisms to the service of the Church community.
  • At times, there may be a lack of harmony among certain theologians with the Magisterium of the Church, above all regarding certain aspects of dogmatic and moral teaching. It is easy to understand that such disagreements create in members of the People of God a great confusion, and even worse can lead to divisions which damage Church communion. In such a situation, the words quoted by the Holy Father John Paul II need to be borne in mind: "in necessariis, unitas, in dubiis, libertas, in omnibus, caritas."(41)
  • Quite often, situations reveal a certain pastoral ineffectiveness resulting from inadequate pastoral structures which no longer meet the new situations of society or do not allow sufficient opportunity for lay involvement.
  • An incomplete application of the Second Vatican Council, above all in certain areas concerning diocesan and parish structures (especially in reference to the establishment and functioning of pastoral and administrative councils). A major distribution of conciliar and papal documents through formation programs at various levels may assist in implementing these and other aspects of the Second Vatican Council.
  • A lack of renewal in methods of catechesis, both in preparation for the sacraments (above all the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Marriage) and in ongoing formation. In this regard, many suggested a major application of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi tradendae.(42)
  • An incorrect application, in some cases, of the principles of liturgical renewal proposed by Vatican Council II. It has sometimes happened that, even after proceeding with good intentions to achieve a better adaptation of the liturgy to popular culture, the result has led to arbitrary liturgical practices which conceal the transcendent nature of liturgical celebrations.(43)
Positive Aspects of Contemporary Society and the Gospel

27. Responding to the invitation of the Second Vatican Council to know and understand the world with its hopes and aspirations,(44) the questions of the Lineamenta propose looking at temporal realities so as to discover in them some positive signs predisposing the person of today to encounter Jesus Christ. The answers contain the following elements:

  • a growing awareness of the dignity of the human person and hisinalienable rights as well as a sense of justice, finding expression, among others, in the refusal of all social discrimination as a consequence of respect for the person and in a search for an ever greater forthrightness in the administration of justice;
  • a respect for nature expressed in an attentive consideration ofecological problems. This is a positive aspect in that it properly predisposes persons to become aware of their being part of creation, thus eliciting a respect for the Creator's work;
  • a pronounced interest in spiritual values and a concern fortranscendent realities. While, at times, this interest takes the form of syncretic and pseudo-religious practices, it continues to serve as the basis for the Church's dialogue with people today, who are thirsting for the Word of Life; and
  • a strong feeling of solidarity and generosity, expressed in a growing sensitivity to the needs of others. This positive sign, reflected in many humanitarian organizations, characterizes not only various national situations but also international relations.
Aspects of Today's Society Requiring Conversion

28. Certain aspects also exist in the societies of the American continent requiring conversion and a change in attitudes. The Church in all America attentive to the social situation has expressed in numerous documents of the Pastors her continuing desire to offer enlightenment to temporal matters through the teachings of the Gospel. From the answers to the Lineamenta the following points emerge as social aspects necessitating conversion:

  • in the family context, both a concept of freedom and an ideal of human love without obligations are often detected. Separation and divorce have become more and more frequent with the consequent break-up of families. Contraceptive practice and abortion are leading to the loss of a sense of the value of life and to the spread of a "culture of death." Family violence is very real and on the increase. A feminine and masculine identity is being lost, and, at the same time, an inadequate formation in sexuality is being indiscriminately promoted in the field of education. Childhood, women, youth and the elderly are areas requiring greater attention;
  • in the economic sphere, many societies in the American hemisphere are marked by the lack of a greater distributive justice. Unemployment is on the rise, wages are low, and the distance between rich and poor continues to grow. In the entire American continent, there are indications of the difference mentioned by Pope John Paul II in his Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio: "the North has constructed (a development model) which is now spreading to the South, where a sense of religion as well as human values are in danger of being overwhelmed by a wave of consumerism."(45) Various answers point to the urgent need to find a solution to the problem of the foreign debt in the context of the celebration of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, as proposed by the Holy Father in his Apostolic Letter Tertio millenio adveniente.(46)
  • on the social level, the process of urbanization continues to accelerate in connection with the appearance of an industrial society and demographic growth. The development of big cities, often uncontrolled and lacking order, brings with it serious social problems such as poverty, uprooting of persons and whole families, drug trafficking and addiction, child and youth prostitution, alcoholism, de- personalization, etc.
  • on the political level, a concept of politics is becoming prominent which does not take into account the common good. It is not unusual for upper class people to live in remote contact with the needs of other people and to be guided by partisan interests. Frequently, a spirit of demagogy is seen with the increased corruption of the structures of power. This situation leads to a lack of confidence regarding political institutions, above all affecting the administration of justice, which is not always forthright, equal and effective.
  • on the cultural level, an atheistic lay culture is sometimes manifested in scholarly and cultural circles by the presence of only a few committed Christian lay men and women in universities and among intellectuals, professionals and artists. There is a need for a greater presence of the Christian laity in the means of social communication. In some cases, a scarce application of ethical principles leads certain agents of social communications to lack objectivity in presenting the truth. Shortcomings in the educational field are evidenced, above all in illiteracy and in the reduction of education to mere instruction, where there is little space for transcendent values.

PART III

ENCOUNTER WITH THE LIVING JESUS CHRIST:

THE WAY TO COMMUNION

Chapter I: Communion in Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ: Evangelizer

29. The beginning and the end of communion in the Church is Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, who redeemed humanity from sin through his passion, death and resurrection, and wishes to encounter every man and woman to offer them salvation in his Church, enlivened by the Holy Spirit. The Gospels are filled with examples of persons who, after having had an encounter with Jesus in their earthly life, became his disciples: Peter and the Apostles (cf. Mt 4:18-22), Mary Magdalen (cf. Lk 8:1-3), Zacchaeus (cf. Lk 19:1-10), the blind men of Jericho (cf. Mt 20:29-34), the Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 4:4-42), Lazarus and his sisters (cf. Jn 11:1-44) and many others. After the resurrection, Jesus also appeared to his followers, for example, to the discouraged disciples on the road to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-35) in order to explain to them the meaning of his suffering and death according to the Scriptures and to make himself known in the breaking of the bread. On each of these occasions, Jesus announced the Good News of salvation through his presence, his words and his deeds. Therefore, it can be said that he is the evangelizer par excellence, as expressed by Pope Paul VI in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi: "Jesus himself, the Good News of God, was the very first and the greatest evangelizer."(47) The Church's entire evangelizing mission comes from Christ's command to his Apostles.

In announcing the Good News, Jesus Christ makes an appeal for conversion, an invitation to live in communion with him and his disciples. The fruit of this living together with the Lord in charity is fraternal solidarity. The concept of communion lies, therefore, "in the heart of the Church's self- understanding, insofar as it is the mystery of the personal union of each human being with the divine Trinity and with the rest of mankind, initiated with the faith, and, having begun as a reality in the Church on earth, is directed towards its eschatological fulfillment in the heavenly Church."(48) The answers to the Lineamenta confirm the need to announce the living Jesus Christ--following his example as the perfect Evangelizer so as to increase communion with God and neighbor--as a reality already present in the life of the Church today and as an eschatological sign of eternal life.

Evangelization for Communion in America

30. The evangelization of the New World, begun more than 500 years ago, brought many men and women to an encounter with Christ and resulted in many saints who characterize the history of the Church in all America. The saints in the lands of the American hemisphere make present the mystery of Christ and show him as an attainable ideal for the men and women of the continent. Their lives are not only a personal testimony of Jesus Christ, but also an expression of the communion of his Mystical Body, the Church. This christological and ecclesiological dimension of holiness has been the means-- and continues to be the means--for drawing many people close to Christ and for entering into communion with him in the Church. In this regard, the majority of the answers to the Lineamenta confirm the importance of devotion to the saints in the piety of the peoples of all America.

The new evangelization, one of the Catholic Church's concerns since Vatican Council II and a present concern particularly as the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 draws near, is seen in many of the answers to the Lineamenta as a task whose principal objective is to direct each person towards a deep experience of God through the mystery of Christ. This requires entering into dialogue with individuals and with the cultures in which individuals live. The Special Assembly for America provides a special opportunity for the Pastors to manifest how the mystery of communion is lived in the particular Churches, how it is lived among those in the same country, and how it is lived in the entire American continent. At the same time, it will be possible to verify in what manner the Church in America can be a sign and an instrument of communion in the entire continent.

Chapter II: The Ecclesiology of Communion in Vatican Council II

The Fundamentals of Ecclesiology: Faith, Sacraments and Mission

31. The ecclesiology of communion is the central and fundamental idea of the documents of the Second Vatican Council,(49) which can easily be seen in reading the four conciliar constitutions: on the Church (Lumen gentium), on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum), on Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum concilium) and on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et spes). The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum presents revelation in terms of the salvific work of Christ, who, through his words and deeds, makes an invitation to openness to communion with God and others.(50) The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium describes the Church as the universal sacrament of salvation, a sign and instrument of communion with God and others.(51) The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum concilium teaches how the Church, on her earthly journey towards the fulness of the Kingdom, finds the source and summit of her ecclesial life in the celebration of the Eucharist, the memorial of the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ.(52) Finally, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes describes the specific contribution the Church can make to society in collaborating for the unity of humanity by bearing witness to the Church's communion, which is founded in Christ.(53)

32. Speaking of the special role which the bishops have in the evangelizing mission of the Church and in the building up of unity, Vatican Council II highlights the essential elements of ecclesial communion in the following terms: "It is through the faithful preaching of the Gospel by the Apostles and their successors—the bishops with Peter's successor at their head—through their administration of the sacraments, and through their loving exercise of authority, that Jesus Christ wishes his people to increase, under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Thereby too, he perfects his people's fellowship in unity: in the profession of one faith, in the common celebration of divine worship, and in the fraternal harmony of the family of God."(54) Therefore, the essential characteristics of communion in the Church are: the profession of the same faith, the celebration of divine worship and the harmony of life in the Church community, both ad intra in its unity and ad extra in its missionary efforts to evangelize the world.

33. The questions in the Lineamenta did not include a question on the vision of the Church as a mystery of communion. Instead, there were questions concerning the particular situation of the Church in all America, i.e., factors which bring about divisions in the ecclesial community (question #4) and the faithful's reception of the ecclesiology of communion as presented by Vatican Council II (question #5). For this reason, the answers are primarily informative, describing the current situation of the Church in all America. It is clear, however, that the answers suppose an ecclesiology of communion in their description of the various aspects of ecclesial life (catechesis, liturgy, Christian testimony, etc.) and that such an ecclesiological conception is based upon faith, the sacraments and a communitarian spirit which inspires the Church's internal life and her missionary activity. With this in mind, the answers clearly show that communion requires the active participation of all the faithful according to the variety of their charisms and ministries. In this regard, increased participation in the area of communion is one of the most valuable fruits resulting from the reception of the Second Vatican Council in the American hemisphere.

Communion of the Catholic Church in All America

34. The majority of the population on the American continent is Catholic.(55) However, the Church's communion on the continent is marked by a series of geographical, historical and cultural factors which condition and qualify this communion. Thus, many answers to the Lineamenta indicate substantial differences between the ecclesial realities in Latin America and the rest of the continent. However, they also point out that it would not be logical to simply characterize entire geographical areas on the differences only, without taking into account certain factors which could be decisive in understanding the global reality. For example, the presence of Latin American immigrants in some areas of the North creates a particular similarity between the ecclesial communities of these areas and those of the South, Central and Caribbean parts of the continent. Furthermore, in each country and local Church there exists a variety of ethnic, cultural, historic and social factors which, far from impeding the unity of faith in the sacraments and common life, actually enrich communion by making it more dynamic and lively.

35. Many responses to the Lineamenta indicate that life in the particular Churches in each country in the hemisphere is influenced not only by the diversity of ethnic origin of the members of these communities, but also by their specific historical, cultural and economic circumstances. In Latin America, the ecclesial communion was often influenced by a very complex social context, which resulted in the birth of basic Church communities and in the development of the theology of liberation.(56) In the rest of America, on the other hand, the experience of ecclesial communion was often influenced by the civil tradition of democracy leading some of the faithful, who desired with an upright intention to participate in the life of the Church, to be tempted to build up ecclesial communion according to the same criteria as those of the civil community (the right to dissent, the will of the majority as decisive in governing and social questions, etc.). According to the responses to the Lineamenta, such a conception does not adequately take into account that the mystery of Church communion implies a vertical dimension (communion with God) as well as the horizontal dimension (communion among people). It is precisely the first dimension which distinguishes the Church from any other human institution and makes possible the authentically Christian dimension of communion among persons. Indeed, the Church is a people whose unity is based upon the unity of the Trinitarian mystery: the same identical Spirit who is the constant and enduring source of communion in the Church in the course of Christian generations.(57)

36. The Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for America is a particularly opportune event because it provides the occasion for gathering Pastors of the People of God from two significant parts of the continent: the North and the South. In fact, these two great areas--which have not only geographic differences but also social and cultural ones--manifest the great division which characterizes the world situation at the conclusion of the Second Millennium, that is, the tension between the northern and southern hemispheres. In the light of an ecclesiology of communion, it seems clear that the synodal assembly can be an efficacious sign and instrument of union for all the members of the People of God and the local Churches on the continent, in communion with the universal Pastor of the Church and at the same time an authentic testimony of solidarity for civil society in all America and in the entire world.

The Influence and the Reception of the Second Vatican Council

37. All the responses to the Lineamenta agree that Vatican Council II has made a profound impression not only upon liturgical life and the life of communion in the particular Churches but also upon the way Catholics perceive the Church and their role in the Church. Generally speaking, all the members of the People of God were affected in a positive manner by the Council:

  • Bishops: one of the emerging realities of great importance is the institution of bishops' conferences, which provide a privileged occasion for rich experiences of collegiality among the Pastors of a given country. Furthermore, collegial communion between the bishops of suffragant sees and their respective metropolitan archbishops effectively assists a proper coordination and uniformity in pastoral criteria, which is a positive sign of ecclesial communion.
  • Priests and Deacons: in various dioceses many positive initiatives of communion have been undertaken by bishops towards their priests and deacons, and among the clergy itself, thus offering a greater service to the People of God entrusted to them (diocesan pastoral councils, pastoral deaneries, clergy meetings, etc.);
  • Lay faithful: many of the laity conceive ecclesial communion as a great gift of the Holy Spirit to be accepted gratefully and at the same time to be lived with a deep sense of responsibility.(58) The answers to the Lineamenta show many ways in which the communion of the laity in local Churches in all America is being lived through participation in diocesan and parochial commissions, collaboration in liturgical programs, catechetics, missionary activities, development of parochial and diocesan pastoral programs, etc.;
  • Consecrated life: the responses to the Lineamenta manifest a growing, active participation of consecrated men and women in the life of particular Churches in testimony to communion and service.(59) As a fruit of the IX Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the consecrated life, new structures of participation are being established in many parts of the continent to contribute towards a better spirit of cooperation by the institutes of consecrated life and the societies of apostolic life, among themselves as well as with the diocesan bishop.

Furthermore, in addition to the various above-mentioned states of life in the People of God, the answers to the Lineamenta emphasize the positive influence of the Second Vatican Council upon other groups which have an active role in ecclesial communion: a) women, whose role is increasingly important in the life of the Church in fulfilling pastoral needs;(60) b) youth, whose pastoral care is a real priority, can be the source for collaboration among the Pastors of the continent; and c) the family as a domestic Church and the first school of the faith and Christian communion.

Chapter III: Difficulties in Intra-ecclesial Communion

Factors of Division

38. Above all, it must be noted that many answers to the Lineamenta speak of a sense of unity and collaboration among bishops, priests, men and women in consecrated life, ecclesial and lay movements as characteristic of local Churches and much stronger than the elements which cause tension.(61) However, this does not mean that signs of division do not exist, for example:

  • a lack of conversion, which is manifested in attitudes such as: authoritarianism, clericalism, anti-clericalism, rejection of authority in the Church, individualism;
  • a lack of dialogue resulting from an incapacity, by certain members of the People of God, to work as a group;
  • a lack of coherent pastoral planning, which is reflected in the absence of a unified approach to evangelization;
  • a reduced participation of the laity in some areas of the Church;
  • the existence of some conceptions of Church life which are not fully coherent with the ecclesiology of communion of Vatican Council II;
  • a lack of formation in a theology of communion and pastoral solidarity among the various members of the People of God: bishops, priests, men and women in the consecrated life, ecclesial and lay movements;
  • insufficient collaboration by certain ecclesial movements in working in communion with diocesan pastoral structures;
  • a diversity of opinion in economic aspects both in reference to stipends related to the administration of sacraments as well as inequality resulting from different criteria regarding the support of the clergy;
  • ideological polarization of some Church members, often labeled in terms of traditionalism and liberalism, which have conflicting points of view on subjects such as social justice, moral theology, liturgy, etc.
  • conflicting attitudes concerning certain subjects on which the Magisterium has already made pronouncements yet used by some members of the People of God as points of contention: the ordination of women, priestly celibacy, indissolubility of marriage, etc..

Finally, underlying these tensions and founded upon them, misconceptions of the mystery of Jesus Christ seem to exist which are being reflected in many currents of thought concerning the mystery of the Church and the planning of pastoral activities. Given the intimate connection between the mystery of Christ and the nature of the Church,(62) it is not difficult to understand that an imbalance in Christology will easily bring about an incomplete ecclesiology, which, in turn, will be reflected in pastoral practices whose basic criteria have a tendency to be identified not so much with the Gospel as with ideological currents far from it. Therefore, it is particularly important to make a complete announcement of the mystery of Christ based upon the objective criteria of revelation and fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church.

Steps Towards Overcoming Divisions

39. In order to overcome divisions, the replies to the Lineamenta speak of the necessity of fostering ecclesial structures and personal attitudes which facilitate dialogue. Many suggest initiating joint-programs in pastoral activities on the national, diocesan and parochial levels. To do this, the responses indicate a necessity to encourage an open-mindedness in accepting the collaboration of all members of the People of God, especially the laity, who can enrich dialogue and pastoral reflection with their charisms and ministries.

The responses frequently point out that the personal conduct of those involved in these tensions is at the basis of divisions within the Church. For this reason, the following attitudes are particularly important: personal and communal prayer to ask for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, an interior openness towards ongoing conversion directed towards the seeking of the truth and the living of charity, availability to participate in communal activities at all levels, respect for others and the patience to understand their positions, honesty not only to express clearly one's ideas but to accept constructive criticism reflected in other points of view, etc..

40. Another common opinion in the replies to the questions on overcoming tensions at the universal level of the Church in all America is that of promoting greater contact, communication and collaboration between the particular Churches of the different regions and countries in the American hemisphere. Following this line of action, various international meetings of bishops have already taken place with representatives from the Bishops' Conferences of Latin America, the Latin American Episcopal Council (C.E.L.AM.), the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States of America and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Such meetings, in addition to the General Conferences of the Latin American Bishops, are excellent occasions for experiencing episcopal collegiality. These events certainly contribute to strengthening the bonds of union in the Church in all America. Another example showing intra-ecclesial communion is the action by some dioceses of sending priests as missionaries to local Churches lacking sufficient vocations or to care for the pastoral needs of immigrants (especially Latin Americans in the United States of America and Canada).

Chapter IV: The Catholic Church in the Religious Context of America

General Considerations

41. The questions of the Lineamenta on this subject distinguish three types of religious communities with which the Catholic Church in America is in contact: a) Christian communities with which there is a relationship of ecumenical collaboration on the path towards gradual communion; b) non- Christian communities with which only an inter-religious dialogue is possible; and c) different groups known generically as religious movements and "sects."(63)

In this regard, it can be said that there is a significant difference between those countries traditionally having a Catholic majority and those having a Catholic minority. The replies from the countries in this latter group, like the United States of America and Canada, generally relate a positive situation in ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue. In contrast, replies from the first group, that is, countries with Catholic majorities such as those of Latin America, speak less about ecumenical and inter-religious activities. The difference between both realities is explained by the historical situation of each area in relation to the respective religious traditions. The difference, however, should not be overly stated since, for example, the activity of the sects seems to be reaching alarming proportions in the entire American hemisphere, so much so that many Catholics are leaving the Church to enter sects or follow the path of a syncretic current commonly called "New Age".

Ecumenism

42. The realization of significant ecumenical efforts is linked in every particular Church to the historical presence of Christian communities which are not in full communion with the Catholic Church, such as, Orthodox Christians, Lutherans, members of the Reformed Churches, Methodists and similar religions actively seeking to overcome divisions. As a general rule, active ecumenical contacts with the Catholic Church are not maintained in those regions where these communities do not have a significant number of members. This is verified in many dioceses and bishops' conferences in the southern part of the hemisphere. However, this is not to say that ecumenical initiatives and positive results are entirely lacking. Generally speaking, many successes can be seen in the area of ecumenism, e.g., the Church's participation in councils of Churches on the continental and national level, theological dialogue, collaboration in the area of human rights, common prayer for unity in conjunction with separated brethren, cooperation in the use of some communications media and also in charitable endeavors. Added to these ecumenical activities, the subject of ecumenism is included in formation programs in seminaries and centers of catechetical preparation. Despite these positive results, many feel it necessary to increase the ecumenical consciousness of the Catholic faithful in regions where Catholics are the majority of the population. On the other hand, it must be said that many non-Catholic Christians in these areas are part of fundamentalist and militant communities, often using forceful tactics against the Catholic Church and seemingly little interested in unity.

43. In countries where Catholics are traditionally a minority, a more intense ecumenical activity is witnessed at both the diocesan and parish level. Ecumenical sensitivity is promoted in Catholic universities and faculties as well as in catechesis. The members of the People of God in this part of the American hemisphere--clergy and laity--frequently participate in councils of Churches and ecumenical organizations. The Catholic Church "co-sponsors" bilateral dialogue on the national, regional and local level. Contacts with more conservative and fundamentalist non-Catholic Christian communities seem to be more easily made in collaborating in pro-life activities and similar areas than in engaging in theological dialogue. However, some subjects associated with sexual morality and the role of women have been the source of conflict between the Catholic Church and other Christian communities.

Generally speaking, the most practiced ecumenical activity in all America is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This program causes ecumenism to grow and mature, and provides nourishment for the spirit of the ecumenical movement, above all in prayer and conversion. Other forms of collaboration in social and charitable activities as well as theological dialogue are being carried out in conjunction with the fundamental aspect of prayer.(64)

Inter-Religious Dialogue

44. With regard to non-Christian religions, some of the responses from the southern part of the American hemisphere mention the Jewish community and to a lesser extent the Islamic community as being the most relevant in this category, although the presence of both communities is a minority. Other Asian religions like Buddhism and Hinduism are less widespread. However, these oriental spiritualities are having an increased attractiveness, even in Christian areas where they are seen as "culturally in vogue." In dealing with this subject, some replies mention the tendency to over-value certain elements of the indigenous religions in America. These tendencies have given rise to the so-called "pluralist theology of religion" which connects the philosophical and religious ideas of Asia with those of the American indigenous world.(65)

The answers on the subject from the northern part of the American hemisphere indicate a major proportion of members of non-Christian religions, particularly Judaism and to a lesser degree Islam. In this part of America, the Catholic Church has had various contacts with these communities and the bishops' conferences have established structures to promote inter-religious encounters. Some dioceses also have good dialogues with Jews and Muslims. A particularly large area of collaboration is witnessed in the field of university education. At the present time the Catholic Church and some Jewish communities see themselves as sharing certain common values and have joined forces in society, even though numerically they are not in the majority.

Sects and New Religious Movements

45. The situation concerning the new religious movements and the sects is very complex and reflects many variants depending on the different cultural contexts.(66) It should be noted that proselytism and extremism are among the most important characteristics of the above-mentioned movements and sects. This problem was addressed in many responses to question 8 in the Lineamenta, which affirmed that these distinctive features are opposed to every kind of dialogue. Such attitudes are the basis of their attempts to lead people to change their religious convictions through various means, such as:(67)

  • an unjust criticism and ridicule of Churches and their religious practices;
  • the use of violence, especially moral compulsion and psychological pressure through certain publicity techniques in the communications' media;
  • the indiscriminate manipulation of political and economic power as a means to obtain new members for the sect or religious movement;
  • the explicit or implicit offer to help in areas of education and health as well as in material and financial assistance, as a means to create dependency; and
  • attitudes and practices which exploit people's needs, psychological weakness or lack of education, especially in situations of exhaustion and desperation, with no respect for human freedom and dignity.

46. A general consensus exists in all America on the serious problem posed by the religious movements and the sects, given their religious extremism and programs of proselytism. So extensive is their growth, that in the Central, South and Caribbean parts of the American hemisphere, the term "invasion" is used, in reference to the fact that many of these groups originate in the United States of America where they have abundant economic resources for the development of their campaigns. Furthermore, mention is made of the existence of a coordinated plan of all the sects to alter the present religious identity of Latin America, which, as the introduction to this document states, is essentially not only Christian but Catholic. In general, the religious movements and sects aggressively preach against the Catholic Church. Moreover, they direct their campaigns of proselytism towards the marginalized of society, immigrants, prisoners, the sick in hospitals and generally towards all who live on the periphery of the big cities, where the presence of the Catholic Church sometimes is not very strong. Some propagators of the sects interpret the Bible in a fundamentalist way, providing pat answers to people who find themselves in situations of great uncertainty. They organize groups for the study of the Bible, give speeches in town-squares and invite people to frequent the sect's places of cult. In general, the sects appeal to people's emotions and superficial sensitivities in order to develop their propaganda activities. In many groups coordinated by these movements, the physical cure of the sick is prayed for and alms are distributed to attract people. Lured by these tactics, many Catholics in recent years have abandoned the practice of their faith to enter the religious movements and the sects.

47. In addition to the groups identified as religious movements and sects, the responses also speak of the existence of a current of thought known by the name of "New Age," which is rapidly spreading in the entire hemisphere and has the proportions of a world-wide phenomenon. This philosophy, departing from relativism, proposes overcoming the problematic of the person as a subject through an ecstatic return to a kind of cosmic dance, while offering, at the same time, a totally anti-rationalistic model of religion, a modern "mystique", according to which God is not a person who is distinguished from the world, but rather a spiritual energy which permeates the whole.(68) In this perspective, a personal encounter with God is simply unthinkable. Even more incomprehensible is the mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God. For this reason, the responses express a deep concern with the "New Age" phenomenon, which is negatively affecting the religious identity of America, and more specifically the Christian and Catholic faith. This movement is an "contender" whose features cannot be seen clearly, since it cannot be placed in a defined category of a sect or a group, but is rather a way of thinking which spreads as an intellectual and spiritual current, silently leaving its mark on culture and many of its expressions.

48. There are many suggestions regarding how to respond to the challenge posed by the religious movements, sects and other currents such as "New Age". In the IV General Conference of the Latin American Bishops, a series of specific measures were proposed which, in a certain way, have already begun to be put into practice in various parts of the hemisphere, for example: improving formation through catechesis; greater attention to liturgical celebrations, especially in the preparation of the homily; greater collaboration between priests and laity so as to bring about a more personalized evangelization (especially in the family and among young people); purification and promotion of popular piety, more emphasis on those aspects most identified with the Catholic Church (Eucharistic devotion, Marian piety, communion with the Roman Pontiff and with the local bishop), etc..(69) In general, there is unanimous consensus as to the opportuneness of strengthening the Catholic community at all levels by renewing the structures of communion and mission, as well as maintaining a living faith in Jesus Christ through meditation and reflection on the Word of God, prayer (personal and communal), the practice of the sacraments (especially the Eucharist) and popular devotion. An effective instrument in overcoming these challenges is the collaboration of bishops among themselves (at the level of bishops' conferences and regional meetings of metropolitan archbishops with their respective suffragant bishops) so as to develop an organic pastoral plan on this subject, which can have concrete results in an effective joint-action.

The Catholic Church as an Evangelizing Community

49. The mystery of Church communion is intimately linked with the Church's evangelizing mission. Jesus Christ himself referred to the unity of the Church as an aspect which compels and strengthens mission: "that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me" (Jn 17:21). The subject of the relationship between communion and mission can be taken up in two contexts: that of the Church in the American hemisphere, and that of the universal Church. In reference to the first context, Pope John Paul II presented the following as the objectives of the synodal assembly: to promote a new evangelization in the entire continent as an expression of episcopal communion; to increase solidarity between the various particular Churches in the different fields of pastoral action; to shed light on the problems of justice and the international economic relations between the nations of America.(70) In this third part of the present document, various elements have emerged towards achieving a greater cooperation in pastoral activity among the various local Churches in America, which will be treated in synodal discussion. However, beyond the continental perspective, the relationship between communion and mission can be considered in a broader context. Indeed, the Catholic Church in the hemisphere can offer to the evangelization of the whole world an evangelical witness of communion of inestimable value. For example, considering that almost half of the world's Catholics are in America, it may be useful to reflect--as the responses to the Lineamenta suggest--on the role which this continent can play in the evangelization of other continental regions. In an analogous way, considering that this continental mass extends from the northern to the southern hemisphere, it is evident that all the efforts which the Church in America could undertake to live more intensely communion on the ecclesial level, will contribute effectively to finding ways of overcoming tensions between the North and the South on the world level.

PART IV

ENCOUNTER WITH THE LIVING CHRIST:

THE WAY TO SOLIDARITY

Chapter I: Revelation in Jesus Christ and Divine Solidarity

Solidarity in the Covenant of the Old Testament

50. The Christian concept of universal solidarity, as an expression of the commandment of love, has its foundation in faith in God the Creator of the universe, who always reveals himself as a God of solidarity towards humanity in the midst of the trials of history. This divine solidarity is demonstrated in the narrative accounts of creation: when man falls into sin, God does not abandon him, but maintains his love, promising him salvation (cf. Gen 3:15). Divine love expresses solidarity in the sense that it manifests a bond through which God commits himself to man's fulfilment of happiness. God's solidarity is reflected in the covenants which he makes with various persons throughout the history of salvation, above all through the covenant with the Chosen People to whom, during the Exodus, he gives the Decalogue on Mt. Sinai (cf. Ex 20:1-17). The Exodus from Egypt is the model and point of reference of all the liberating interventions of God.(71) He commits himself to the salvation of his people, and demands exclusive faithfulness as the Lord of the Covenant. Faithfulness to the God of the Covenant supposes on the part of the faithful people a religious and ethical commitment, which is manifested in the holiness of divine worship and respect for life.

51. In the divine law, the basic loyalty to the God of the Covenant is proclaimed through the commandment of divine love (cf. Deut 6:5) as well as the commitment to love one's neighbor (cf. Lev 19:18). This bond between religion and ethics is characteristic of the Old Testament. The prophets take it for granted (cf. Am 5:21ff; Hos 6:6; Is 1:14ff; Mic 6:8), and, for this reason, seek through their preaching to keep alive the concern for the poor, criticizing the abuses which are the fruit of wealth and power (cf. Am 5:7-11; Mic 3:1-4). They are not content simply to criticize evil; they proceed to invite the people to conversion towards God and to observe the demands of justice and righteousness (cf. Ez 18:21). They openly denounce the injustice committed towards the weak as a sin violating the Covenant and breaking communion with God, and emphasize assuming personal responsibility for the problems of the community (cf. Jer 31:29-30). The prophets also announce, as a sign of the presence of the kingdom of God in history, a New Covenant through which human society is to be renewed and purified of injustice (cf. Jer 31:31-34). The liturgy supposes the connection between worship and solidarity (Ps 15:1-5; 24,3-5). The piety of Israel proclaims the redemption of the oppressed as a manifestation of God's love and solidarity (cf. Ps 18:3).

Solidarity in the New Covenant

52. In the New Covenant, the incarnation of the Son of God is the greatest manifestation of solidarity with sinful humanity by the God of the Covenant (cf. Jn 1:14). The Good News preached by Jesus Christ does not abolish the Law and the Prophets in any of its parts, rather it entirely maintains the imperative of love of God and neighbor (cf. Mt 5:17; Mk 12:28-34). Jesus preaches the Good News by calling people to conversion. The Beatitudes make reference to the poor, the pure of heart and those persecuted for justice' sake (cf. Mt 5:3-11). The high regard for the concrete exercise of mercy takes on an eschatological significance in the parable of the last judgment; the words of the Judge are centered on concrete expressions of love towards the least (cf. Mt 25:31-46). In Jesus' teaching, the Good Samaritan is proposed as a model of solidarity because of his charity towards his neighbor (cf. Lk 10:29-37). In early Christian communities an emphasis was placed on fraternity, and, likewise, the many forms of solidarity and communion of goods was promoted (cf. Acts 2:42-45; 2 Cor 8:7-15). Early Christianity conceived unity of love of God and neighbor as a fundamental requirement of faith (cf. 1 Jn 4:20), and, at the same time, considered this commandment as the fullness of the law (cf. Rom 13:8-10).

Chapter II: the Church and Solidarity

The Awareness Towards Solidarity in the Church in All America

53. The answers to the Lineamenta show that the particular Churches in all America, in light of divine revelation, display a deep conviction of the need for a global solidarity which would take into account distinct regions as well as the spiritual and human realities of the whole American hemisphere. The Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for America provides a providential occasion to promote the new evangelization in the lands comprising the American continent, to increase solidarity among the particular Churches and to highlight the problems of justice in relations between the North and the South of this portion of the globe.(72)

The papal Magisterium, especially during the last century, has considered the question of social justice on numerous occasions.(73) In a particular way, Pope John Paul II has shown his concern for a greater universal solidarity as an expression of the respect for the dignity of the person and the Christian vocation to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.(74) The Church in all America, together with the Church throughout the world, while on pilgrimage towards the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, also seeks to read the signs of the times on the American continent, which await a response from the Gospel.(75) In this regard, the Pastors of the People of God in communion with the Vicar of Christ have made in recent years special attempts to shed light on the human reality in the multiplicity of its aspects through their teaching and series of initiatives.

54. The responses to the questions in the Lineamenta show a clear awareness of the relationship between evangelization and human promotion. Aware of the trials of many families, the fundamental structures of "human ecology" and the "sanctuaries of life,"(76) the Pastors of the People of God in all America have sought in many ways to practice solidarity through initiatives in their dioceses and through the efforts of the episcopal conferences, the following of which are a sampling: promoting endeavors which demonstrate the principles of the Church's social doctrine; seeking ways to apply these principles through Church structures (such as national and diocesan Justice and Peace Commissions, Caritas) and other organs of pastoral activity specialized in addressing the social situation; attempting to alleviate the present material needs in human society through national and diocesan collections; setting aside sums of money for works of solidarity and organizing programs towards the sharing of goods as well as petitioning the generous help of Catholic organizations and other national and international institutions; and providing free legal counsel for those who cannot afford the payment of professionals, etc.. The responses confirm the spontaneous generosity of the whole People of God before these initiatives of their Pastors. In many cases, the laity themselves, with a creativity which characterizes their mission in the secular order, suggest and propose projects and initiatives to meet the most urgent requirements of those in greatest need.

55. This awareness towards solidarity is also displayed in charity, a genuine and profound expression of the faith of believers. Diocesan and national institutions of Caritas are in almost every diocese and country in the American hemisphere. Many answers to the Lineamenta mention the generosity of the faithful in responding to those most in want, not only through alms but also through committed personal service, be it in everyday circumstances or in cases of serious disasters which often happen. In many regions cooperative structures have been organized in solidarity where the communities of a diocese or parish contact and assist other communities having fewer resources, thus displaying solidarity among the Churches. However, despite this positive approach which is spontaneously increasing among the faithful, the replies to the Lineamenta maintain the need for a more structured program of formation to assist in creating a greater consciousness of the importance of solidarity towards society as an expression of a fellowship which is not only a humanitarian unity but fundamentally a spiritual communion in Christ.

The Assistance in Solidarity Received by the Church in All America

56. The assistance given in solidarity and received by the Church in the American hemisphere can be classified according to where this aid originates, i.e., from within the Church and from outside the Church. In replying to the question about the first type of collaboration, the responses mention the assistance in solidarity which the different particular Churches in all America have received for several decades from ecclesial institutions from other continents, especially Europe. Among these organizations are the following:Misereor, Adveniat, Kindermissionwerk, Kirch in not, the Italian Episcopal Conference and several European dioceses and parishes who act as "patrons" to various corresponding entities in America by sending contributions. There are many undertakings for social promotion and structures for evangelization made possible because of the work of solidarity in various fields: education, health, housing, Church construction, catechetics, theological formation, the work of vocations and missionary activity, etc.. With regard to the solidarity received from outside the Church, the responses make mention of the collaboration of some civil bodies at the municipal, provincial and national levels, who see the Church as a trustworthy institution and at the same time a subsidiary collaborator in their programs of social promotion. However, the observation was made that this type of collaboration is possible only when there are good relations between the Church and the government.

Solidarity in the Church has also come about in recent years not simply from Church institutions outside of the American hemisphere but from Church structures within. Some answers indicate that in North America, the ecclesial bodies of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States and the Canadian Catholic Bishops' Conference collaborate in the development of programs in many dioceses in Latin America. These concrete manifestations of inter-ecclesial solidarity in all America not only show the clear awareness of fraternal solidarity in the Church on the continent, but also constitute a Gospel witness of communion within human society.

The Social Doctrine of the Church

57. The Christian reality is complex because the ethic of justice and the requirement of fraternal solidarity must both be met. The Christian faith calls for a Christian social ethic which the Church's social doctrine proposes in a systematic way as directives for Christ's disciples in their personal, family, cultural and social life. The responses to the questions in the Lineamenta speak of a general conviction on the part of bishops in the particular Churches in all America that the social doctrine of the Church is a useful and necessary instrument to carry forward a pastoral program of Christian solidarity. The social doctrine formulates the basic principles for viewing real situations and the criteria of moral judgement for evaluating the social conflict between the human reality and the Christian ideal as well as the rules capable of guiding the concrete actions of individuals and communities for the promotion of the common good and the overcoming of moral disorder and social injustice.(77) Moreover, the fundamental principles of the Church's social doctrine, founded on the dignity of the person, are the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity. According to the first principle, each individual is called upon to contribute to the common good of society; according to the second, the State cannot substitute for the free initiatives and responsibility either of individuals or intermediary social groups on the level where each is able to act.(78)

58. With regard to the diffusion of the Church's social doctrine, many answers to the Lineamenta report various initiatives being undertaken by local Churches and episcopal conferences, such as: the organization of courses, workshops, conferences and study weeks; articles and essays in local newspapers, magazines and Church publications; courses in seminaries, universities and Catholic schools; etc.. Furthermore, numerous ecclesial institutions are turning towards the Church's social doctrine though study for a fuller understanding and in applying its principles. Many episcopal conferences have commissions designated to promote socio-pastoral activity. Their involvement in the social problems of their given country is usually very positive, since it contributes to bringing the principles of the Church's social doctrine into the dialogue between trade unions and business men as well as government and workers. The mediation task of the Church in these cases is generally well accepted by both parties.

Nevertheless, in addition to the extensive work being done in this area, the responses acknowledge that much still needs to be done in the Church in the American hemisphere to foster knowledge and application of the Church's social doctrine. The answers to the Lineamenta indicate that this situation results from the little account given in some cases to the social implications of the faith, which, in turn, is reflected in an incomplete formation in both laity and clergy. The subject of the essential unity between the faith and works (cf. James 2:14), between worship and Christian living (cf. Mt 5:23-24), between the spiritual life and putting into practice the Gospel principle of love of neighbor still needs to be more deeply rooted in the consciences of many members of the People of God.

Chapter III: Areas of Solidarity in All America

The Challenge of the Gospel

59. The intended receiver of the plan of communion and salvation in Christ is the person, "the primary and fundamental way for the Church, the way traced out by Christ himself, the way that leads invariably through the mystery of the incarnation and redemption."(79) The Gospel cannot be proclaimed as if it were separated from the problems of the human condition, both in its spiritual and temporal aspects.(80) The community of Jesus' disciples continues to be the Church of the Good Samaritan, who seeks to do whatever is necessary for the afflicted (cf. Lk 10:25-37). Human promotion is intimately united to evangelization, since the person to whom the Gospel is addressed is not an abstract concept but a subject affected by concrete social and economic problems.(81)

60. Answers coming from the Latin American countries point to various distressing situations which afflict many peoples in this geographic and cultural region, such as: the ever widening gap between the rich and the poor; the complex situation created by the international debt,(82) the absence of employment and an insufficient salary, a situation unable to be overcome except through a rousing of conscience which gives rise to a general movement of solidarity;(83) economic recession and inflation; financial speculation and draining of capital; sale of arms and tensions coming from war; the problem of drug trafficking; corruption of public administration and a disinterest in the common good,(84) conditions of poverty in which many families live (hunger, sickness and a lack of social aid and health assistance, a want of a decent home and education). All this is seen not only as a serious ethical disorder which cries out for a change in mentality, but also an invitation to the whole Church to have as her goal in her evangelizing mission the human person in this concrete, integral reality.

61. In other countries in the American hemisphere, principally in Canada and the United States of America, social situations exist which are in a certain way similar to those previously described. These are also a source of concern for the Church, principally in two cultural areas: immigrants and those living in isolated areas of big cities where complex social problems exist, such as: unemployment, impoverished conditions of life (hunger, lack of decent living conditions and hygiene), drug addiction and violence, the inadequacy of many immigrants to insert themselves in society, juvenile delinquency, etc.. In these cases, Christian communities live these problems in response to the Gospel's duty of service to one's neighbor and attempt to give an appropriate response in view of material assistance, which is, at one and the same time, the message of charity and the Gospel's witness of charity. In these social activities, there is evidence of a good spirit of collaboration between the Catholic Church and other Christian confessions as well as with other religions. The same cannot be said of the sects and similar religious movements.

Solidarity and Love for the Poor

62. The words of Pope John XXIII have a perennial force, especially in the American hemisphere, in his declaring that the Church, embracing everyone, wishes above all to be the Church of the poor.(85) The discussion on the Church and the poor during the Second Vatican Council was particularly poignant. The Church sees in the poor--as if in a moral mirror--the image of her divine Founder, poor and humble, and she seeks to alleviate the poor's suffering as a service to Christ.(86) The call to action in response to poverty continues with insistence. Paul VI, speaking to the farmers in Colombia, spoke of the poor as a "sacrament of Christ;"(87) and in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi confirmed the link between the Gospel of Christ and the question of the liberation from misery as a demand of justice and Christian charity.(88)

63. The Pastors of the particular Churches in all America, supported by the Holy Father's Magisterium, encourage all members of the Church to fulfill better their Christian duties in order to overcome the distressing situation of misery resulting from sinful structures, which lead to the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer. John Paul II, while in apostolic visitation to the American hemisphere, recommended a social commitment to justice and called for a just distribution of goods.(89) The particular Churches in all America, following the invitation of the Successor of Peter, developed intensive pastoral activity on Christian solidarity towards infants and women, farmers and workers, the sick and imprisoned, emigrants and immigrants, the poor and the abandoned. On several occasions, the bishops in Latin America have invited the whole People of God to occupy themselves in a particular way with the problem of poverty. They proclaimed that authentic evangelization is manifested in a love for the needy, which calls for a commitment of service to people who are suffering, and a taking on of a clear preferential option and solidarity towards the poor.(90)

Ecclesial Communities and Solidarity

64. The II General Conference of the Latin American Bishops, in Medellin, defined basic Church communities (comunidad ecclesial de base) as the primary cells in the Church structure, which, on their proper level, are responsible for the richness of the faith and its expansion as well as for the promotion of the person and development.(91) The concept of basic Church communities returned as a point of discussion at the III General Conference of the Latin American Bishops, which noted three distinctive characteristics: the communal dimension through which members enter into an intimate inter-personal relationship of faith; the ecclesial dimension of the community, according to which the community, while celebrating the sacraments, seeks to live the implications of the new commandment in fraternal solidarity and commitment of life; the structural dimension through which the community formed by a few members in a permanent way of living is understood to be the vibrant and fundamental cell of a larger community.(92) To these fundamental elements, Pope Paul VI, explaining the ecclesial dimension implicit in these communities, added two essential characteristics: communion with the Church (local and universal) and communion with the Pastors and the Magisterium of the Church.(93)

In many Churches in Latin America, these small Christian communities have been considered a decisive pastoral option for the renewal of Church life, given the enormous dimensions and demands of the diocesan and parochial structure. Nevertheless, the same magisterial documents of the Latin American bishops recognize that in some places these basic communities have been manipulated by political interests and isolated from communion with the bishops, losing in this way the ecclesial dimension.(94) However, the responses to the Lineamenta praise basic Church communities as groups where many Christians can experience ecclesial communion and fraternal solidarity.

The Foreign Debt and Balance in the Global Economy

65. The Church in all America seeks in announcing the Gospel to provide guidance to the men and women of the continent in their work of constructing fraternal solidarity, where justice and peace are the determining principles. The bonds of solidarity acquire particular importance in reference to the relation between the North and South, above all concerning the question of the foreign debt. The responses to the Lineamenta suggest that the way to address this complex problem in the context of the globalization of the international economy can only be found in fundamental ethical principles with which each party assumes in solidarity their responsibilities in the construction of the future.(95)

Even though the international debt is not the sole cause of poverty in many developing countries, it cannot be denied that it has contributed to creating conditions of extreme privation which constitute today an urgent challenge appealing to the conscience of the People of God. Many characteristics are listed in the responses to the preparatory document: famine and misery; lack of the basic necessities for living, health and nourishment; unemployment; absence of proper housing and education, etc.. This situation of suffering for so many poor families in all America is witnessed among farming populations and workers in cities, among Afro- Americans and American Indians. A Christianity committed to justice stands before a wide field of action. Many of the answers to the Lineamenta re- affirm the call of Pope John Paul II to find a solution to the problem of the international debt "proposing the Jubilee as an appropriate time to give thought, among other things, to reducing substantially, if not cancelling outright the international debt."(96) Moreover, the suggestion is made to discuss the subject in the wider context of the globalization of the international economy in the prospects of a proper re-establishment of the order of social justice.

Solidarity and the Promotion of the Culture of Life

66. The human person called to the fullness of life consisting in the participation of divine life is the one to whom the Church announces the salvation accomplished in Christ through his Pascal Mystery. In recent times, the pontifical Magisterium has shown its special concern for the family and the protection of human life in all its stages.(97) The Church in the American hemisphere has also manifested through her many pastoral initiatives her adhesion to the concern of the Holy Father concerning the promotion of human life. In his Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II recalled the responsibility which every human being has before God for one's life and the life of one's neighbor.(98) Among the principle concerns indicated in the Lineamenta for promoting human life are the following:

  • The family as the privileged place where life is born and the person develops.(99) In this area there exists, at the diocesan and national level, different Church institutions and organizations which promote in families the meaning of conjugal fidelity, responsible parenthood, the Christian education of children, solidarity with other families and, in general, the development of the nuclear family as a "domestic Church" after the example of the Holy Family at Nazareth. In this regard, special attention needs to be given to: the diffusion of information on the natural means of family planning and the care of unmarried mothers and the elderly without the joy of a family.
  • Health assistance directed to all stages of human life. In this area, the Church carries out work not only in offering spiritual care to the sick but also, in some cases, healthcare services in collaboration with the civil initiatives in hospitals and healthcare centers. Among other areas of action, the following can be mentioned: the cases of serious illnesses such as cancer and AIDS, drug addiction, alcoholism; those persons who are physically and mentally handicapped; etc.
  • Christian bio-ethics as the set of ethical principles related to human life. In this field, it is a question of bringing the Gospel to bear on new problems which science is posing because of its new discoveries. In this regard, initiatives are indicated such as: the creation of centers on bioethics, the preparation of specialized pastoral personnel, inclusion of this subject matter in the programs of Catholic seminaries and universities, etc.. The answers show that there is still much to be done to address this great challenge of our time.
  • The promotion of the culture of life in response to "a culture which denies solidarity and in many cases takes the form of a veritable culture of death."(100) Many negative signs are manifesting themselves in a denial of life in the societies of all America, for example: the violation of human rights, the legalization of abortion, the acceptance of euthanasia, sterilization programs, etc.. On many occasions, the bishops have spoken out individually and collegially through their own preaching and through documents from the episcopal conferences, directing their words as Pastors to the People of God and to all people of good will, so as to make them aware of the individual and social responsibility associated with the divine gift of life.

CONCLUSION

67. The Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for America, in addition to being a part of the process of preparation for the jubilee celebration of the Third Millennium, represents in the history of the Church in all America an event of singular importance. Indeed, the synodal assembly manifests the pastoral concern of the Vicar of Christ and the bishops of the People of God in America to bring together the various peoples and nations to profess the one faith in the living Jesus Christ, the way to conversion, communion and solidarity. In doing so, the synod celebration has the goal of providing a response to the great challenges arising from the socio-cultural context of the American hemisphere by meditating on the subjects of the new evangelization, human promotion and the Christian culture of the New World in the light of Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever (cf. Heb 13:8).

The Instrumentum laboris offers to the Synod Father for their reflection a synthesis of the responses to the questions in the preparatory document. The presentation of various subjects seeks to represent the complex reality of the American hemisphere and to serve as the basis of synod discussion, thereby providing an occasion for discernment and fraternal dialogue of great importance. Through a collegial reflection on the matters presented in the working document, common problems and important information from local situations may emerge as well as gifts of the Spirit under the form of charisms and ministries, not to mention challenges and possibilities which come from present-day cultures in all America. All of this will help the Church on the continent to discover her identity, while carrying out the task of the new evangelization with renewed energy.

68. Facing the challenging task of evangelization represented by the complex reality of the American hemisphere, the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for America wishes to proclaim with renewed intent the mystery of the living Jesus Christ, who died and rose again from the dead, living in history and present in a special manner in his Church, so that all may discover him as:

  • the true way leading to an authentic personal conversion and a renewal of social structures, so that human living and life in society may receive the seed of the Kingdom of God and produce the fruits of new life, peace, justice and mercy;
  • the true way leading to communion in charity, which makes visible the One who out of love became flesh and dwelt among men so that all could behold his glory (cf. Jn 1:14) and participate in the divine gift of the civilization of love; and
  • the true way leading to solidarity, so that this ideal, which is a requirement of the common good, might be respected by all members of the human family and prevail over the corrupt will of domination.(101)

69. Just as the Apostles together with Mary persevered in prayer and received strength from the Holy Spirit to begin the proclamation of the Good News (cf. Acts 2:1-13), in the same manner the Pastors of the People of God in all America, gathered together in faith with the Successor of Peter under the protection of the Mother of God and Mother of the Church, invoke the outpouring of the Holy Spirit so as to continue with renewed effort the mission of announcing the message of salvation in the midst of the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the men and women of this time in all America.(102) Holy Mary of Guadalupe, Star of the First and the New Evangelization, guide the steps of those who are in pilgrimage in this American hemisphere towards the encounter with the living Jesus Christ, the Lord of time and eternity: "the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and End" (Rev 22:13).

INDEX

Preface iii

Introduction

The Topic of the Special Assembly 1

The Religious Identity of America 2

Part I: ENCOUNTER WITH THE LIVING JESUS CHRIST

Chapter I: The Mystery of Christ

The Mystery of Christ and the Human Person

The Announcement of the Complete Truth

Concerning the Mystery of Jesus Christ

The Mystery of Jesus Christ Proclaimed to People and Culture

Chapter II: The Announcement of Jesus Christ in the Cultural Context of America

The Gospel and Culture

The Gospel and Indigenous and Afro-American Cultures

The Gospel and the Cultures of Immigrant Peoples

The Gospel and Popular Piety

The Gospel and Education

The Gospel and the Means of Social Communication

Part II: ENCOUNTER WITH THE LIVING JESUS CHRIST:THE WAY TO CONVERSION

Chapter I: Conversion to Jesus Christ

The Encounter with the Living Jesus Christ

Brings About Conversion

The Church Preaches Conversion

Chapter II: Conversion in the Church and in Society

Concrete Signs of a Religious Re-awakening in the Church

Urgent Aspects of Conversion Within the Church

Positive Aspects of Contemporary Society and the Gospel

Aspects of Today's Society Requiring Conversion

Part III: ENCOUNTER WITH THE LIVING JESUS CHRIST:THE WAY TO COMMUNION

Chapter I: Communion in Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ: Evangelizer

Evangelization for Communion in America

Chapter II: The Ecclesiology of Communion of Vatican Council II

The Fundamentals of Ecclesiology: Faith, Sacraments and Mission

Communion of the Catholic Church in All America

The Influence and the Reception of the Second Vatican Council

Chapter III: Difficulties in Intra-ecclesial Communion

Factors of Division

Steps Towards Overcoming Divisions

Chapter IV: The Catholic Church in the Religious Context of America

General Considerations

Ecumenism

Inter-Religious Dialogue

Sects and New Religious Movements

The Catholic Church as an Evangelizing Community

PART IV: ENCOUNTER WITH THE LIVING CHRIST:THE WAY TO SOLIDARITY

Chapter I: Revelation in Jesus Christ and Divine Solidarity

Solidarity in the Covenant of the Old Testament

Solidarity in the New Covenant

Chapter II: the Church and Solidarity

The Awareness Towards Solidarity in the Church in All America

The Assistance in Solidarity Received by the Church in All America

The Social Doctrine of the Church

Chapter III: Areas of Solidarity in All America

The Challenge of the Gospel

Solidarity and Love for the Poor

Ecclesial Communities and Solidarity

The Foreign Debt and Balance in the Global Economy

Solidarity and the Promotion of the Culture of Life

Conclusion

END NOTES

(1) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente (10 November 1994), 38: AAS 87 (1995) 30; also cf. Inaugural Discourse, IV General Conference of the Latin American Bishops (12 October 1992), 17: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 21 October 1992, p. 8.

(2) Cf. SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR AMERICA, Lineamenta, 2.

(3) This small island, originally called Guanahani, was re-baptized by Christopher Columbus San Salvador. Today, this island, found in the Bahamas, is called Watling.

(4) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic letter to the Men and Women Religious of Latin America on the Occasion of the Fifth Centenary of Evangelization in the New World, 29 June 1990, 1: AAS 83 (1991) 22.

(5) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptor hominis (4 March 1979), 10: AAS 71 (1979) 275.

(6) Ibid., 13: AAS 71 (1979) 282.

(7) Cf. SAINT AUGUSTINE, Confessions I, 1: CCL 27, 1.

(8) JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptor hominis (4 March 1979), 4: AAS 71 (1979) 261.

(9) Cf. Ibid., 7: AAS 71 (1979) 268.

(10) Ibid., 9-10: AAS 71 (1979) 272-275.

(11) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes, 22.

(12) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptor hominis, 11: AAS 71 (1979) 277.

(13) PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi (8 December 1975), 27: AAS 68 (1976) 23.

(14) JOHN PAUL II, Discourse to the Bishops of the Episcopal Council of Latin America - C.E.L.AM., Port-au-Prince, Haiti (9 March 1983), III: AAS 75 (1983) 778.

(15) JOHN PAUL II, Inaugural Discourse, IV General Conference of the Latin American Bishops (12 October 1992), 20: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 21 October 1992, p. 8.

(16) PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi (8 December 1975), 20: AAS 68 (1976) 1

(17) Ibid., 19: AAS 68 (1976) 18.

(18) Ibid., 20: AAS 68 (1976) 18; cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes, 53.

(19) JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio (7 December 1990), 52: AAS 83 (1991) 300.

(20) Cf. Document of the III General Conference of the Latin American Bishops, Puebla (1979), 386.

(21) JOHN PAUL II, Discourse to the Representatives of the World of Culture at the Catholic University of Santiago, Chile (3 April 1987), 2: AAS 80 (1988) 15

(22) JOHN PAUL II, Letter Establishing the Pontifical Council for Culture (20 May 1982): original Italian text in L'Osservatore Romano, 21-22 May 1982, p. 3.

(23) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes, 4-9.

(24) Cf. JOHN PAUL, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio (7 December 1990), 54: AAS 83 (1991) 301.

(25) Many documents from the Magisterium of John Paul II treat this subject: Discourse to the Indigenous People of the Amazon, Manaus, 10 July 1980; Discourse to the Indigenous People of Guatemala, Quetzaltenango, 7 March 1983; Discourse to the Indigenous People of Ecuador, Latacunga, 31 January 1985; Discourse to the Indigenous People of Peru, Iquitos, 14 February 1985; Discourse to the Indians of North American, Phoenix, 14 September 1987; Discourse to the Indigenous People of Canada, Fort Simpson, 20 September 1987; Discourse to the Autochthonous Populations of Paraguay, "Santa Teresita" Mission, 17 May 1988; Apostolic Letter to Men and Women Religious of Latin America on the occasion of the Fifth Centenary of the Evangelization of the New World, 29 June 1990, 7: AAS 83 (1991) 26-27; Message to the Indigenous People of the American Continent, Santo Domingo, 12 October 1992; Message to the Afro-Americans on the American Continent, Santo Domingo, 12 October 1992; Discourse to the Autochthonous Communities of Mexico and other Latin American countries, Izamal, 11 August 1993. Likewise, the subject of indigenous people has also been treated extensively by the General Conferences of the Latin American Bishops in Rio de Janeiro, 84; Medellin 1, 14; 4, 3; 12, 11; Santo Domingo, 20, 107, 110, 245, 248; and on Afro-Americans in Puebla 365, 410, 415; Santo Domingo 107, 110, 167, 244, 249, etc.

(26) Among the many popular saints, the following can be cited: the Martyrs Jean de Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues and companions, and Roque Gonzáles; the Saints: Rose of Lima, Turibius de Mongrovejo, Frances Xavier Cabrini, Martin de Porres, Elizabeth Ann Seton, John Macias, Rose Philippine Duchesne, Ezechial Moreno, Peter Claver, Francis Solano, Teresa de los Andes, Miguel Febres Cordero, Mariana Paredes of Jesus; the Blesseds: Kateri Tekawitha, Junipero Serra, Katherine Drexel, Juan Diego, María de la Encarnación Rosal, Miguel Pro and Rafael Guizar Valencia, Maria Alvarado Cardoza, José de Anchieta and a host of other Saints and Blesseds who gave witness to the Gospel in America.

(27) JOHN PAUL II, Inaugural Discourse, IV General Conference of the Latin American Bishops (12 October 1992), Santo Domingo, 24: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 21 October 1992, p. 9; Cf. Document of the III General Conference of the Latin American Bishops, Puebla, 446; Document of the IV General Conference of the Latin American Bishops, Santo Domingo, 15.

(28) Ibid., 31: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 21 October 1992, p. 10; cf. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter to Men and Women Religious of Latin America on the Occasion of the Fifth Centenary of the Evangelization of the New World, 29 June 1990, 31: AAS 83 (1991) 45.

(29) JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio (7 December 1990), 37: AAS 83 (1991) 284.

(30) Cf. Ibid.

(31) PAUL VI, Apostolic Constitution Paenitemini (17 February 1966) I: AAS 58 (1966) 179.

(32) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et paenitentia, 4: AAS

(33) JOHN PAUL II, Homily at the Marian Sanctuary at Zapopan, Mexico (30 January 1979), 3: AAS 71 (1979) 230; cf. also Document of the III General Conference of the Latin American Bishops in Puebla, 452.

(34) Document of the IV General Conference of the Latin American Bishops in Santo Domingo, 30.

(35) JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente (10 November 1994) 36: AAS 87 (1995) 27.

(36) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 1.

(37) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum concilium, 14.

(38) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 33-34.

(39) Ibid., 8.

(40) Cf. Ibid.

(41) JOHN PAUL II, Discourse to the Permanent Council of the Italian Episcopal Conference (23 January 1979), 3: AAS 71 (1979) 366.

(42) JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi tradendae (16 October 1979), 35- 50: AAS 71 (1979) 1307-1317.

(43) Cf. III General Conference of the Latin American Bishops, Puebla, 940: "To celebrate the liturgy with cultural expressions, in accordance with a healthy creativity. To promote adequate adaptations, especially for ethnic groups and simple people; however taking care that the Liturgy is not instrumentalized for purposes foreign to its nature, maintaining faithfully the norms of the Holy See and avoiding arbitrariness in liturgical celebrations."

(44) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes, 4.

(45) JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 59: AAS 83 (1991) 307.

(46) JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente (5 November 1994), 51: AAS 87 (1995) 36.

(47) PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi (8 December 1975), 7: AAS 68 (1976) 9.

(48) CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning some aspects of the Church considered as communion, 3: AAS 85 (1993) 839.

(49) Cf. SECOND EXTRAORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY (1985), The Message to the People of God, (7 December 1985).

(50) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei verbum, 2, 4, 17.

(51) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 1, 3, 48.

(52) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum concilium, 5-10, 47-48.

(53) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church Gaudium et spes, 42.

(54) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis redintegratio, 2.

(55) SECRETARIAT OF STATE, Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae, Typis Vaticanis, 1995, p. 18.

(56) Concerning small Church communities see: PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi (8 December 1975), 58: AAS 68 (1976) 46-49; JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio (7 December 1990), 51: AAS 83 (1991) 198-299; Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa (14 September 1995), 89: AAS 88 (1996) 56. Concerning Liberation Theology see: CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation Libertatis conscientia (22 March 1986): AAS 79 (1987) 554-599.

(57) JOHN PAUL II, Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici, 19: AAS 81 (1989) 424.

(58) JOHN PAUL II, Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici, 20: AAS 81 (1989) 425-427.

(59) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata (25 March 1996), 14-16, 41-58, 72-74: AAS 88 (1996) 387-390, 414-431, 447-450.

(60) Cf. SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR AMERICA, Lineamenta, 39.

(61) JOHN PAUL II clarified the specific role of the laity, clergy and religious in the context of the Church as communion in his Synodal Apostolic Exhortations: Christifideles laici (30 December 1988), 18-31: AAS 81 (1989) 421-448; Pastores dabo vobis (25 March 1992), 11-18: AAS 84 (1992) 673-686; and Vita consecrata (25 March 1996), 41-58: AAS 88 (1996) 414-431.

(62) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 8.

(63) A similar distinction is made by the Ecumenical and Hispanic Affairs Committees of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States of America and the ecumenical section of Latin American Episcopal Council - C.E.L.AM., in the document entitled, "Fostering Ecumenism in the U.S. Hispanic Community", Origins 24, 1994- 1995, 659: "We recognize the difference between those historic Christian Churches and ecclesial communities who are open to dialogue and the quest for full unity and those Christian groups who are not open to dialogue, some of whom take a negative attitude toward Catholicism, and also those aggressive movements which are outside the Christian community. We realize that we have different relationships with all of these groups."

(64) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree on Ecumenism,Unitatis redintegratio, 8; JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Ut unum sint (25 May 1995), 21-27: AAS 87 (1995) 934-938.

(65) Cf. CARDINAL JOSEPH RATZINGER, Conference at the Meeting of the Presidents of the Episcopal Commissions of Latin America on the Doctrine of the Faith, (May 1996, Guadalajara, Mexico): L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 6 November 1996, pp. 4-6.

(66) Cf. PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN UNITY, Directory for the application of the principles and norms on ecumenism (25 March 1993), 36: AAS 85 (1993) 1052). This document clearly distinguishes between ecumenical activities and the response to the challenges presented by the sects and the new religious movements, using a criteria based on the distinction of the mutual acknowledgment of the parties in dialogue and a certain already existent though imperfect communion between the two . For a deeper study of the subject, consult the document of the same Pontifical Council, "Sects or New Religious Movements: A Pastoral Challenge", in Information Service, N.61, 1986, 144-154.

(67) Cf. PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN UNITY, Study document of the Joint Working Group of the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches, "The Challenges of Proselytism and the Calling to Common Witness", 19, in Information Service, N. 91, 1996/I-II, 80.

(68) CARDINAL JOSEPH RATZINGER, Conference at the Meeting of the Presidents of the Episcopal Commissions of Latin America on the Doctrine of the Faith, (May, 1996, Guadalajara, Mexico): L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 6 November 1996, pp. 4-6.

(69) Cf. IV GENERAL CONFERENCE OF THE LATIN AMERICAN BISHOPS - 12 October 1992, Santo Domingo, Final Document, 139-146.

(70) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente (10 November 1994), 38: AAS 87 (1995) 30; Inaugural Discourse, IV Conference of the Latin American Bishops (12 October 1992), Santo Domingo, 17: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 21 October 1992, p. 8; SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR AMERICA, Lineamenta, 2.

(71) Cf. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation Libertatis conscientia (22 March 1986), 44-45: AAS 79 (1987) 571-573.

(72) SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR AMERICA, Lineamenta, 65.

(73) PIUS XI, Encyclical Letter Quadragesimo Anno (15 May 1931); AAS 23 (1931) 177-228; JOHN XXIII, Encyclical Letter Mater et magistra (15 May 1961): AAS 53 (1961) 401-464; Encyclical Letter Pacem in terris (11 April 1963): AAS 55 (1963) 257- 304; PAUL VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum progressio (26 March 1967): AAS 59 (1967) 257-299; Apostolic Letter Octogesima adveniens (15 May 1971): AAS 63 (1971) 401-441; JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Laborem exercens (14 September 1981): AAS 73 (1981) 577-647; Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo rei socialis (30 December 1987): AAS 80 (1988) 513-586.

(74) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Convention on International Cooperation for Technical Development in Africa Authentic Human Solidarity is Respect for People's Dignity (22 November 1984), 3: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 24 December 1984, pp. 6-7.

(75) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes, 4.

(76) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus annus (1 May 1991), 39: AAS 83 (1991) 841-843; SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity Apostolicam actuositatem, 11.

(77) Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolic Letter Octogesima advenians (15 May 1971), 4: AAS 63 (1971), 403 - 404; JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo rei socialis (30 December 1987), 8: AAS 80 (1988) 520; Inaugural Discourse at the Conference of Puebla, III, 7: AAS 71 (1979) 203.

(78) Cf. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation Libertatis coscientia (22 March 1986), 73: AAS 79 (1987) 586.

(79) JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptor hominis (4 March 1979), 14: AAS 71 (1979) 284-286.

(80) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio (7 December 1990), 59: AAS 83 (1991) 307-308.

(81) Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi (8 December 1975), 31: AAS 68 (1979) 26-27.

(82) Cf. PONTIFICAL COMMISSION JUSTICE AND PEACE, In Service to the Human Community: A Ethical Consideration of the International Debt (27 December 1986).

(83) Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolic Letter Octogesima adveniens (15 May 1971), 18-19: AAS 63 (1971) 414-415; JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Laborens exercens (14 September 1981), 18: AAS 73 (1981) 622-625.

(84) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes, 26.

(85) Cf. JOHN XXIII, Radio Message, 11 September 1962: AAS 54 (1962) 682.

(86) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 8.

(87) Cf. PAUL VI, Discourse to the Farmers of Colombia (23 August 1978): AAS 60 (1968) 620.

(88) Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi (8 December 1975), 38: AAS 68 (1973) 30.

(89) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Inaugural Discourse to the III General Conference of the Latin American Bishops (28 January 1969 - Puebla), III, 1-7: AAS 71 (1979) 198-204.

(90) Cf. III GENERAL CONFERENCE OF THE LATIN AMERICAN BISHOPS (1979 - Puebla), 382, 707, 1134.

(91) Cf. II GENERAL CONFERENCE OF THE LATIN AMERICAN BISHOPS (1968 - Medellin), XV, 10.

(92) Cf. III GENERAL CONFERENCE OF THE LATIN AMERICAN BISHOPS (1979 - Puebla), 641.

(93) Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi (8 December 1975), 58: AAS 68 (1976) 46-49

(94) Cf. III GENERAL CONFERENCE OF THE LATIN AMERICAN BISHOPS (1979 - Puebla), 630.

(95) Cf. PONTIFICAL COMMISSION JUSTICE AND PEACE, At the Service of the human Community: An Ethical Consideration of the International Debt (27 December 1986).

(96) Ibid., 51.

(97) PAUL VI, Encyclical Letter Humanae vitae (25 July 1968): AAS 60 (1968) 481-503; JOHN PAUL II, Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio (22 November 1981): AAS 74 (1982) 81-191; Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae (25 March 1995): AAS 87 (1995) 401-522.

(98) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, 75-77: AAS 87 (1995) 488- 490.

(99) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio (22 November 1981), 18-64: AAS 74 (1982) 100-158.

(100) JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae ( 25 March 1995), 12: AAS 87 (1995) 414.

(101) Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Inaugural Discourse, IV Conference of the Latin American Bishops (12 October 1992), Santo Domingo, 15: L'Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 21 October 1992, p. 8.

(102) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et spes, 1.

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